Sunday, January 18, 2009

Beach Birds

This morning in meeting I finished a book by Severo Sarduy called Beach Birds. The explanation says that it is written in a Baroque style, and while that is not something I completely familiar with, I can say it was a rather abstractly written story about many sick people living on a Island in a hospital and dying from a disease that is probably AIDS. The language was beautiful and the plot many times a bit hard to follow, but the main thought in the story that resonated with me is how all of these characters are fighting so hard against death. Immortelle, one of the dying, fights to hard in a search to regain her youth through the use of fashion, romance, sex, exercise, and alternative medicines, when the sad truth is she will never regain her youth again.

As the characters reach towards death one of them ponders what the afterlife will hold. There is discussion of how the hope in death is that it will be this wonderful, final sleep- that death will be this utter cessation of being. There will be no colors. There is will be approval or judgment. There will just be a lack of being. No more energy to expend. Rest.

I talked to someone very close to myself about this concept some time ago and we expressed the peace that may come with knowing that one's being would cease after death. Others who I am close to have expressed that they would feel so sad to have all of these things in the universe continue to happen without our knowing about them. And if life is really only the years that we have on this earth, then what does that ultimately mean? Does it mean that nothing we can do during those years can really have that big of an impact on what happens when we lay to rest? Or does it mean the opposite?

I thought on this for some time this morning. I don't have any answers. I do find something beautiful in being able to live fully in the years we have on earth and getting to rest fully after those years have past. Then I thought about those I had lost and whether or not I will think of them as a cessation of being of a continual spiritual presence in an afterworld. In one way I feel that those who came before us do continue to exist through the ways that they influenced us. They exist in us. I feel happy to think of those who are no longer on earth as achieving this ultimate rest. To have no more struggles or emotions, but just to return to the earth from which we came.

It's sad and at the same time it's not sad. It's certainly a mindful.

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