|This is my favourite photo. Nasturtiums in my backyard after rain.|
Steven Jenkinson - interview
This is such a very interesting interview - a podcast - so there is no visual - where scholar of death rituals and spiritual teacher Steven Jenkinson discusses the myriad ways we ignore death in North American society, and how imperative it is to move from dying badly to dying well. Rather, living well while dying. An excellent and comforting notion.
His basic assertion is that throughout history the vast swaths of migrants of every different origin, who came to North America were / are really running from something - not running to something. Thus we live within fewer original religious and contextual constructs, and are essentially orphans within our own lives, unable to say who our people are, and what our culture is. We have created something "new" and young, and vibrant, and cast off the old ways, which included rituals related to death. We also spent a good deal of time bashing down Aboriginal cultures that embraced their own death rituals.
So, how do we die? How do we live while dying? It seems that when we are dying, we do not have a narrative to follow - there is no construct with forms, and symbols, and models, and it is a time of as Jenkinson says, "wretched anxiety - and toxic fearfulness". Very sad that this is so. And from my own perspective, very much the case. We are afraid of pain. I am afraid of pain. But, more so, I personally am more sad for my children. Because, eventually, they will not have me. But then, Jenkinson points out also we have the ability to live well while dying, perhaps providing as much of ourselves or more for the ones who do not die. (A distinction, this, those who die and those who do not die - as opposed to those who die vs those who are "left behind" - an assumption that the dead have left us, instead of perhaps, gone on another journey. I admit, it makes me happy to think of the people I might meet...somewhere else)
Dying has already begun for us all - as Sarah and I were discussing last night - as we sat with a fine chianti and cheese, after a day of visits with friends, and tears, and love and pain. As Frank Capra says - a divine mingle-mangle of guts and stardust. Every day should be that rich.
I like Jenkinson's ideas very much - that if we live our lives within the realm of "being" - with ourselves, with our ancestors, and thinking of them, and pulling together our thoughts as part of the past, the present, and the future, we can live better while we die. And all of us are on our way, as he says, the only eventual result of birth is death.
My favourite quote - "A good death is a village event." A wake - a party - a symbolic event. There will be open bar at mine, I promise you.
And the title is from the interview, see if you can find it. Interesting ideas about kids, teaching and death.