“When we’re alive, life consumes us. But when we die, all of the color and the motion is gone so quickly, it’s as though it can no longer stand to be wasted on us.” Lauren DeStefan
“Don’t think of this as your first step or last step. Just be here as a piece of life. That is the best way to be. You are not a young man; you are not an old man. You are just a piece of life.” Sadhguru, Life and Death in One Breath
A couple of weeks ago my friend Alena pointed out that what I thought were Alpacas were really Llamas and vice versa. I’m sure she meant well, but I was worried that if I was wrong about this maybe I was wrong about everything.
I forgot about it for a while until this afternoon when I stopped to visit some old friends. There he was, Big Al, staring me down with bright red eyes and a look that told me I was going insane.
Something snapped inside what was left of my mind and I began to lose touch with reality. I started to wonder if I was a man dreaming that I was an Alpaca or an Alpaca dreaming that I was a man.
When I got home and looked in the mirror I saw that my ears looked different and there was hair growing out of them. I was also noticeably uncomfortable wearing sneakers and had a strange craving for a bowl of grass.
The way I see it I have several choices, one is to go back to the funny farm but last time I gained ten pounds and they have limited smoke breaks. Another is shock treatment, which I think I can do at home with a car battery.
The third is to resume therapy, but my therapist is a goat and I think he may be biased. Or I can simply stop photographing animals and shoot trains, which are relatively safe unless they run you over which rarely happens.
I’ve never read The Metamorphosis by Kafka but found this quote which says it all: “I cannot make you understand. I cannot make anyone understand what is happening inside me. I cannot even explain it to myself.” Thanks Alena.
“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows, by itself.” Basho
“Days, pale slices between nights, they blend, not exactly alike, transparencies so lightly tinted that only stacked all together do they darken to a fatal shade.” John Updike
“It’s not what they built. It’s what they knocked down. It’s not the houses. It’s the spaces between the houses. It’s not the streets that exist. It’s the streets that no longer exist.” James Fenton
I remember this day like it was yesterday, even though it was more than fifty five years ago. I told the photographer the light was bad, the sailor suit was cliché, and that we should ditch the teddy bear. But he just told me to shut up and sit still.
Looking back I can’t help but wonder if this was really me. I mean, I no longer have blond hair and I’m considerably taller. Is any of this person who I am now? Does this happy looking kid still exist in me somewhere? Basically, who the hell am I now at 59?
Sadhguru and many others have said that I am not the body or even the mind, which would make it very hard to choose clothes that fit. Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, author of I Am That says that I am not the person I think I am.
But I think E. E. Cummings said it best: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” Dammit.
“As long as you imagine yourself to be something tangible and solid, a thing among things, you seem short-lived and vulnerable, and of course you will feel anxious to survive. But when you know yourself to be beyond space and time you will be afraid no longer.” Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
“A fresh attitude starts to happen when we look to see that yesterday was yesterday, and now it is gone; today is today and now it is new. It is like that – every hour, every minute is changing. If we stop observing change, then we stop seeing everything as new.” Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche
“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.” Sylvia Plath