The good ole days weren’t always good, and tomorrow ain’t as bad as it seems. ~Billy Joel

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Sometimes we get caught up in the crazy. It’s unavoidable. It’s right in front of us … ALL THE TIME!! We are what we eat and we eat what we see. We are the stories we have created. Nothing wrong with that… usually it’s a pretty ok place to be.

“We are not trapped by our thoughts. What we generally do, however, is create thoughts that trap us.” (p.162)”
― Joshua David Stone, A Beginner’s Guide to the Path of Ascension

We move through these stories rarely realizing that we are just piece actors in parts we have developed in realities we have invented. Stuck in the now or stuck in the new or stuck in the sticky web of our imagination. Often not realizing that we can change the words, the act, the reality just by changing the view.. the viewpoint.. the point of view. I am always eventually bringing myself back to my theme on perspective.

We look back on the past with fond memories of the things we think we ate. Foods, friends, fun, dinners, parks, and whatever made you feel happy and real.  

Always forgetting the mad rush from job to job to home to school to the hospital to a friend’s side to a parents death to the birth of a child to the torment of a lost love to the current political crisis to the next election to the (and the list goes on and on and on).

“We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.”
― Tennessee Williams, The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore

We eat these things every day and drown in their pools of darkness. And yet, when they pass.. and all things pass, we usually recover and go on and on and on. Until the next bit of madness consumes us.

My dad is my biggest current consumption.  He turns 80 in October.  That’s his goal.  He wants to eat 80.   80 is BIG.  HUGE.  That’s almost a century for you non-math folks.  He wants to dance with it, sing with it, and celebrate it.  He’s worked hard for it, so why shouldn’t he be able to?  Unfortunately, cancer is consuming HIM quickly.  He’s handling it like a trooper, a real pro.  This is actually more than I can say for myself. 

Catch on fire and people will come for miles to see you burn. John Wesley

He has no regrets BUT he has so many stories yet to tell (said in a very whiny, child-like voice).  I’m happy I was able to spend last month with him, my sister, my kids, and my grandkids.  BUT it really wasn’t enough time (voice even more whiny).  It’s not like we never spent time together.  We spent time when we could but we were and are still always so busy… but we were and are still always so broke …but we were and are still always so consumed with the chaos that we are surrounded in.. that we surround ourselves in..  But.. but.. but.. now… now… we rush home.. we rush to this catastrophe.. to this sadness.. to this dark night of the soul to this physical burning of a huge part of our lives, of our story.

BUT.. (again the buts) this will also pass.  It’s not like it will ever go away completely but it will be reduced to another chaotic meal in my life.  I mean.. not everyone makes it to 80 right?  Everyone’s story goes away eventually.  Even the best stories fade.  A landmark in our lives didn’t just fade, it disappeared completely.  As if it had never existed.. had never ever even been there.  A hill. A hill with a tree.  A hill with a tree with windchimes in it.  A hill with a tree with windchimes in it and carved out stones laying beside it.  A hill that represented other folks that faded… disappeared completely.. as if they had never existed. Not only did the hill fade (disappear).. but a giant metal horse and a baby horse also faded (disappeared).  Literally, not figuratively, disappeared. 

It was part of a story that we had all created in our lives.  A story that we did not think would ever disappear.  Which in retrospect is silly.  We had trespassed for 50 years onto this property because it was mom’s place.  Still is.. even though it is gone.  Even though she is gone.  Characters in a play is all.  Nothing remains when the curtains close.

Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like. Lao Tzu

So goes the story.  So the story goes.  The past, the present, and now the future.  It really isn’t as bad as it seems.  You just have to write it.. and re-write it.. and right it and re- right it. Here’s to my hope for the future.

The Last Time I said Goodbye


“Never say goodbye because goodbye means going away and going away means forgetting.”
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

 

When you tell someone goodbye, you will never know if that will be the last time you will be able to tell them goodbye, the last time you will be able to say it, the last time you will be able to tell them you love them and can’t wait to see them again.

“I thought I was stronger than a word, but I just discovered that having to say goodbye to you is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
― Colleen Hoover, November 9

 

Well, goodbye Monique, I love you.  Rest easy and I will see you later.  I really believe that.

 “I’ve never forgotten him. Dare I say I miss him? I do. I miss him. I still see him in my dreams. They are nightmares mostly, but nightmares tinged with love. Such is the strangeness of the human heart. I still cannot understand how he could abandon me so unceremoniously, without any sort of goodbye, without looking back even once. The pain is like an axe that chops my heart. ”

― Yann Martel, Life of Pi

 

Twisted – – Just a little


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Bored on a Saturday afternoon?  What do you think of doing?  I’m sure the first thing you thought of was NOT to go watch a cremation..in a stadium setting..surrounded by hundreds of people you don’t really know. Or maybe that is the first thing you thought of….

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During my first visit to Pashupati, I was amazed at the colors, the sounds and the smell of the area.  Pashupati is a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River.  Every day families can be found with their deceased to this edge of the river here to be cremated.  It is my understanding that after the cremation, the ashes are buried nearby the temple area.

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Many westerners however, visit simply to witness the open air cremation ceremony. During my first visit, every area available was being used.  This past weekend I had a guest in town and we decided to visit the area.  There is a part of me that felt it was a little disrespectful to watch people cremate their family members but it is such an interesting cultural experience.  Only Hindus are allowed in the temple area so you are really watching from across the river and are not interfering with the process.

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People who have money are able to hold their ceremony in a very central spot right on the water.  There appears to be only one cremation at a time happening in this area.  The ceremony is well attended and the body is strewn with beautiful flowers.

People without money are cremated in a more crowded area with similar fanfare but a little less grand in style.

We stood on the opposite banks for some time watching the process as well as watching the people who were watching the process.

This was not the first cremation I had seen in Nepal.  When I first arrived, circumstances brought me very close to a cremation in a very different location.  It was interesting how all of life went on around the cremation area.  There was a woman washing her laundry in a doorway behind me while children played ball and animals ate grass very near the cremation site.  When the body was placed on the stand and wood and flower were placed on the body, the children stopped playing ball for just a minute and stood about 4 feet from the body.  They watched the process for about five minutes and then went back to playing ball.  It was amazing and interesting how death played a role in their every day lives and how close this culture is to death in comparison to my own.  It was odd and comforting all at the same time. It was very natural.

Every culture around the world has their own way of dealing with death.  One is not better than the other and it’s all what you grew up with.  Still it is very interesting to me.  A few more way for you to think about.

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

The way we grieve, commemorate, and dispose of our dead varies greatly from culture to culture, but some traditions really take funerals to the next level of macabre. Here are 10 of the most bizarre death rituals the world has ever known.

1. Endocannibalism

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

For some cultures, the best way to honor the dead is by eating them. Referred to as “endocannibalism” by stuffy anthropologists, these “feasts of the dead” are a way to forge a permanent connection between the living and the recently deceased. It’s also a cathartic way to express the loathing and fear associated with death and its tragic aftermath. Some anthropologists have suggested that endocannibalism is something the dead would have expected from the living — a final gesture of goodwill to the tribe and family. Though no longer practiced (at least not that we know of), cultures who engaged in endocannibalism included the Melanesians of Papua New Guinea and the Wari people of Brazil.

2. Tibetan Buddhist Celestial Burials

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

But why nourish yourself with the flesh of the recently deceased when you can use it to feed wild animals? Such is the thinking of Tibetan Buddhists practice ritual dissection, or “Sky Burials” — the tradition of chopping up the dead into small pieces and giving the remains to animals, particularly birds. Sometimes the body is left intact — which is not a problem for advantageous vultures. While this may seem undignified and even a bit disgusting, the ritual makes complete sense from a Buddhist perspective. Buddhists have no desire to preserve or commemorate a dead body, something that is seen as an empty vessel. Moreover, in tune with their respect for all life, Buddhists see it as only fitting that one’s final act (even if committed in proxy) is to have their remains used to sustain the life of another living creature; and in fact, the ritual is seen as a gesture of compassion and charity. Today,over 80% of Tibetan Buddhists choose sky burial, a ritual that has been observed for thousands of years.

3. Suspended Burials

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

The mysterious Bo people of the Hemp Pond Valley in Southwest China’s Gongxian County flourished for millennia before they were massacred by the Ming Dynasty over five centuries ago. Today, the Bo are almost completely forgotten, save for the dramatic hanging coffins they have left behind — a haunting array of wooden caskets that extend from the rock face to a height of almost 300 feet. Located just above the Crab Stream, the 160 coffins were placed along the cliffs and within natural caves, with some resting on wooden posts that extend out from the cliffside. The precipice itself features many murals that are painted with bright cinnabar red colors, many of which depict the lives of the Bo people. Today, the locals refer to the long-lost civilization by such names as “Sons of the Cliffs” and “Subjugators of the Sky.” But why they interred their dead in this way remains a complete mystery.

4. Sati

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

Though now (mercifully) banned in India, Sati was a funerary practice in whichrecently widowed women immolated themselves on their husband’s funeral pyre. The custom was seen as a voluntary act, but there were many instances in which women were forced to commit Sati — sometimes even dragged against their will to the fire. No one is certain how the ritual got started, but one suggestion is that it was introduced to prevent wives from killing their wealthy husbands (typically with poison) and marry their real lovers. Another possibility is that it was seen as a way for a husband and wife to enter into the afterlife together so that they could thwart opportunistic female angels. Interestingly, India was not the first and only culture to adopt the tradition. Other ancient societies that practiced something similar to Sati included the Egyptians, Greeks, Goths, and Scythians.

5. The Viking Funeral

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

Hindi women clearly had it tough — but so did the slave girls of Viking noblemen. According to the historic account of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, a 10th century Arab Muslim writer, the ritual following the death of a chieftain was exceptionally brutal. Once dead, a chieftain’s body was put into a temporary grave for ten days while new clothes were being prepared for him. During this time, one of his slave girls would “volunteer” to join him in the afterlife; she was then guarded day and night and given copious amounts of intoxicating drinks. Once the cremation ceremony got started, the girl went from tent to tent to have sex with every man in the village. As the men were having sex with her — or what today we woud call “rape” — they would say, “Tell your master that I did this because of my love for him.” Following this, the girl was taken to a tent where she had sex with six Viking men, was strangled to death with rope, and finally stabbed by a village matriarch. And for the coup de grace, the bodies of the chieftain and slave girl were place onboard a wooden ship that was set alight. The Vikings did this to ensure that the slave girl would serve her master in the afterlife, while the sexual rites were a way to transform the chieftain’s life force.

6. Ritual Finger Amputation

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

As if the death of a loved one wasn’t traumatic enough, the Dani people of West Papua, New Guinea also had to cut off their own fingers. This seemingly severe and incomprehensible ritual applied to any woman related to the deceased, as well as any children. The practice was done to both gratify and drive away the spirits, while also providing a way to use physical pain as an expression of sorrow and suffering. To perform the amputation, fingers were tied tightly with string and then cut off with an axe. The leftover piece was then dried and burned to ashes or stored in a special place. The ritual is now banned in New Guinea, but (as this image shows) the effects of the practice can still be seen in some of the older members of the community.

7. Famadihana

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

The Malagasy people of Madagascar have clearly never heard the phrase, “Rest in peace.” In an effort to hasten decomposition — what’s seen as an crucial step in the ongoing process of getting the spirits of the dead into the afterlife — the Malagasy dig up the remains of their relatives and rewrap them in fresh cloth. Afterward, the Malagasy then dance with the corpses around the tomb to live music. Called Famadihana, or “Turning of the Bones,” the ritual has been around for three centuries — one that the local Christian churches are doing their best to stamp out.

8. Mortuary Totem Poles

10 Bizarre Death Rituals from Around the World

Totem poles are a fixture of the American Northwest and the Haida people, but there’s more to these icons than meets the eye. Normally, the remains of a deceased Haida were thrown into a mass pit where they were scavenged by animals. But the series of events following the death of a chief, shaman, or warrior were considerably more intricate. In those cases, the body would be crushed to a pulp with clubs so that it could fit into a small wooden box the size of a suitcase. Following that, the box would be placed atop a special mortuary totem pole in front of the deceased’s longhouse where the icons acted as guardians for the spirits’ journey to the afterlife. Visiting missionaries were often taken aback by the practice, mostly on account of the lingering smell.

9. Australian Aboriginal Mortuary Rites

The best part of an Aboriginal death ritual is that family members get to keep a souvenir afterward — namely the bones of the deceased. Following the demise of a family member, the body was placed atop a raised platform and covered with leaves and branches where it was left to decompose — a process that often took months. In some cases, the liquid from the decaying corpse was collected and rubbed over the bodies of young men to pass on the good qualities of the deceased person. After, the bones were retrieved and painted with red ochre. The bones were then either placed in cave or inside a hollowed out log. And in some cases they would be worn by relatives for up to a year. Some tribes also refused to utter the name of the deceased and completely disregarded any property they left behind. The entire ritual was way to ensure that the ego component of the deceased’s spirit didn’t get too comfortable hanging out with the living.

10. The Zoroastrian Funeral

Zoroastrians have a thing with dead bodies, what they see as something that defiles everything it touches, whether it be the ground, clothes, people — and even fire. The funeral gets off to a rousing start by having the corpse cleansed in unconsecrated bull’s urine (which can only be done by a specially trained member of the community). Once “clean,” the corpse is laid in linen and visited twice by the “Sagdid” — a dog that can cast away evil spirits. After mourners visit the corpse (touching is strictly forbidden), it is placed on top of the Dhakma, or “Tower of Silence,” where the Zoroastrians remove the clothes using tools (the clothes are later disposed of as they’ve been defiled). Following this, the body is quickly devoured by vultures. The entire ritual is done in this way to ensure the minimal amount of harm and injury to the living.

Just a random video I like to close off this post.

Other twisted posts.

  1. The Ambitious Drifter
  2. Points of view
  3. Broken Light
  4. Bumblepuppies
  5. Life in the Foothills
  6. About one thing
  7. Ohm Sweet Ohm
  8. Snow Partridge
  9. Steve Says
  10. Roland’s Photo Blog
  11. Arresting Imagery
  12. Tish Farrell
  13. Freddy’s Photo Project
  14. Canadian Travel Bugs
  15. Writing Between the lines

 

 

I could not have expressed it better..


Beyond Paisley paid an amazing tribute to one of my favorite actors in her recent blog post, “I’m Still Processing The Death of Robin Williams.”  I feel exactly how she expressed her feelings but I do not think I could have said it better than she therefore I would like to share her post.  Thanks for expressing this so eloquently…

I’M STILL PROCESSING THE DEATH OF ROBIN WILLIAMS

The news this week, it was shocking. Shocking. Robin Williams. Dead at 63. I grew up on a steady diet of Robin Williams. I remember when he, bizarrely, showed up on Happy Days and had an epic thumb battle with The Fonz.

And I watched Mork & Mindy almost greedily every week, because–particularly in first two seasons–there was nothing quite so aggressively funny on TV.

My mom even got me a pair of rainbow suspenders, which I wore until the clips gave out and just stopped gripping. (And I’d think they were secure and would go out and then a clip would slide up until it reached the end of my waistband. Once it did, it would indeed fly, be free, right into my face. Oh, embarrassment on the playground fer sure.)

Like so many others out there, I loved Robin Williams for his energy and razor-sharp wit, his lightning-fast ability to find the joke, to make anything (a basket of eggs? Really?) hilarious. And I loved him for his ability to handle dramatic roles, too, bringing human complexity and an astonishing depth of emotion to a character that, in the hands of a different performer, could easily end up being too one-dimensional. I’m looking at you, Dead Poet’s Society.

He was brilliant. He was admired. And now he’s gone. If he’d died of a heart attack or was killed in a car accident…we have mental scripts in place to cope. But Robin Williams took his own life. He’d always been open about his long-standing struggles with depression, and also with substance abuse, so it was no secret that he had some malignant, tenacious demons. But still. In a society that views “success” as the answer–which he had, at least outwardly–Robin Williams’s suicide is inconceivable.

The commentary surrounding his death has been interesting. I have, for the most part, stayed away from anyone who’s completely vitriolic; I don’t need to read articles written by socially stunted hatemongers to know they exist.  But the one statement that I can’t stay away from, which I’ve seen expressed in various media outlets and have heard from people I know and love, is that his act was selfish. And I recognized myself in that statement; ten years ago I might have said the same thing. I have since moved past it, realizing that depression is far more pernicious and illogical and lying and thieving than those of us who aren’t depressed can understand. Still, I get why it’s part of the public patois about suicide. I just don’t think it’s right or fair. We’re never inside anyone else’s head. We don’t know what’s happening anywhere else except in our own noggins…and even then, if you find me someone who’s legitimately got it all together, I will pass out in shock. Mental illness is so dreadfully misunderstood. As a society, we need to bring the same sensibility to the treatment of depression that we bring to, say, the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Both can cripple. Both can kill. But you don’t tell an RA sufferer to “get over it”.

When I was a little kid–maybe 9 or 10 years old–I was at the beach and got caught in an undertow. I was pulled out in the waves, and slammed back on the beach, and pulled out, and slammed back. Over. And over. And over. I didn’t see a way out, there was no way to break the cycle of being sucked out into the water, and slammed back to the shore. Finally, something solid loomed up in front of me and in desperation I grabbed it; I remember breaking the grip of the waves, and how the waves felt resistant to my release. Luckily, the solid thing turned out to be the feet of a man doing surf fishing. It could have been a shark, it could have been an electrical box that was on fire, it could have been Jason Voorhees in full machete-and-hockey mask regalia. The point is, I didn’t care at that moment what I grabbed, so long as it got me out of the crazy cycle I was trapped in.

While I don’t claim that that’s what was going on in Robin Williams’s head, I will say that for that split second, for that one miniscule moment in time, I understood what it’s like to not care any more about what the exit looks like. Desperation isn’t selfish. It’s just desperate. We tend not to revisit these moments, since they’re usually unpleasant and force us to contemplate our own mortality. But I’d make the bet that if everyone took a good, long look at his or her past, we could all find at least one moment where logic and presence failed and desperation took over.

That’s a spot from which compassion can grow. I challenge everyone to find it.

Rest in peace, Robin Williams.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 – National Suicide Prevention Lifeline