I suppose I told you that this blog endeavor would be an "illustrated fun blog." And then I go and talk about death all day with an interjection of "Hey, check out Nice, France!" Sorry, I'm not sorry. That's just how my brain functions these days. Maybe I should call this an illustrated life blog? Whatever. Let's throw caution, and labels, to the wind here. Have I led you astray? Let me try and make sense of it all.
Disclaimer: I've been reading The Labyrinth of Solitude by Noble Prize winning Mexican poet Octavio Paz, which is a new discovery altogether for me, and I can't put it down. Octavio has infiltrated my brain, in the best sort of way, with his perspective on how Mexicans revere and accept death and life, alike, as the duality of human existence. He describes it as almost an elusive courtship. It's a dance between life and prospects of death, where both are heightened in a yin and yang romance.
Octavio's quote "Self discovery above all is the realisation that we are alone" - struck me. So, naturally, I had to doodle that shit. Which I did. Exhibit A:
There's something therapeutic, cathartic, about hand drawing each word. Focusing on the curvature of each letter and sentence structure. It's become my way of savoring words and has been one of the most gratifying new activities in my adulthood.
But these words in particular, they carry weight in a way that grounds me and brings me peace.
So back to my mom passing away.... yes....that AGAIN. You think after six years I could maybe find another topic to post about but this is not the case. Maybe I'll slowly work all these initial death posts out of my system and talk about shoes or something soon so we can all relax in our easy, breezy carefreeness, again.
Nonetheless, she's been on my mind more than ever these past few months. Mostly, in the same way that I like to savor each word from a quote I find alluring, I want to savor every bit of learning I can from the experience of losing her, especially in this heavily transitional part of my life.
And one of those key learnings for me has been the discovery that we are all truly alone. And in accepting that truth, I have found comfort.
I revert back to the memory of being in hospice beside my mom when she gulped for air, eyes closed, unconsciously taking in her last breaths as each of us children arrived to her bedside to whisper our goodbyes in her ear. In agreement with Octavio Paz's sentiments on life and death, this was one of the most simultaneously beautiful and tragic observations I have yet to witness. My 25 year old self had no idea how to process the unravellings of this scene. And in that surreal moment, I recognized what a personal experience this was for my mother. Even as my dad, myself, my brothers surrounded her - this was her passage to face alone. We could only do our best to connect with her and communicate our utmost gratitude and adoration for her through brief, rushed whispers. But she was alone in this.
Understanding that we're ultimately alone to face life and eventually death releases me from the pressure of ever feeling like I have to strive for an unattainable connection with someone, a significant other, friends, and family. Not to say that it's not worth pursuing close, intimate connection with other humans. I only mean that it reduces the pressure of relationships and reminds me to not "force it." In my opinion, we will never fully understand one another as we are each too deeply rooted in our own selves and that is completely okay. We can come pretty damn close with a certain select number of people whose paths cross our paths and therefore, we can be surprised, delighted, and awestruck by those connections.
In my acceptance of my aloneness, which has been a progressive development over the last several years, I find that I'm much more forgiving, loving, and generous with myself. And my relationship with me takes priority. If I'm all I really have and will ever have, everything and everyone else is icing on the cake in which I can't help but be grateful.
"Solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Man is the only being who knows he is alone." (Octavio Paz)
Find the joy,
Background song inspiration for this post: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9RkMxXvyG8
Photo of my mom in LA, 2009.
Me and mom in Hawaii, Feb 2009, before she passed away in June 2009.