"The radiance falls on all of us." ~Lidia Yuknavitch
Diagnosed Mortal #6
I am one week into dead girl walking and I'm getting people considering an intervention, so I go over it in this audio file essay written in 2017. It is about what I'm doing with the writing exercise. It is hard for my friends to imagine my preoccupation with the subject of death so they default to concern of my having suicide ideations. This is a kind concern from them; not a judgment, so I explain my objective...or try to. I'm too cozy with the dark for some folks. If they saw and understood the template of the stars in my natal horoscope, it would make more sense. I am comfortable where angels fear to tread. It is my power to explore subjects others may find swarthy or untoward. This area is my small part of the bigger picture; my different way to be in the world.
I cover briefly the consequences of death denial in culture. As a kid, I had a coffin table in the front parlor of the Victorian House I was living in. The coffin was a 60's anti war march prop. This room was repurposed as my bedroom in my foster home. Who knew this was the room that traditionally was used when people died as the "viewing room" of the dead bodies? The walls were talking.
Fun Deathy Fact: Death care was a job primarily performed by women at home prior to the Civil War. Here is yet another caustic aftereffect of that war: embalming fluid...and hundreds of years of normalizing treating dead bodies like they are untouchable trash.
"Prior to the mid-19th century, the dead were prepared, dressed, and displayed by their own family... The body was displayed in a homemade or purchased casket in the family's home... Wealthier families had “proper” rooms that held their finest possessions during viewings, and some family homes had a separate door known as a "coffin door" or “death door” to remove the body as it was custom for the body not to cross a doorway where the living crossed..."
More of this fascinating information at Wikipedia
There, you see? What is not fun about this subject?
I speak in the audio file about how Lidia Yuknavitch's TED talk influenced me when I saw it in 2016. I then read her memoir, Chronology of Water and it liberated me from thinking my life story was so bad I couldn't share it. I got the message that the time had come for the misfits...the disenfranchised...there was room on the edge for me and those like me. I could, if I wanted to let my voice out, write it down and my story didn't have to be in any special order to be legit. I didn't have to have technique but it had to be honest. Honesty was all I had as I'm not an educated woman in the sense of academics and understanding stylish writing techniques. Honesty and a willingness to just let my story flow out in its own way was what I cultivated and my memoir Different Ways was, in a large part, inspired by Lidia and her courageous heart. Don't pass on what she has to say. It is for everyone to hear.
I later took a class with Lidia and some other folks who were wanting to learn to express themselves better. My writing improved immensely from the influence but I'm no writer really. I never wanted to be. I wanted to be brave and not hold anything back from my story but I wanted to have enough skill to capture the feels so if a person read it, they might get what I was feeling at those times and relate....or maybe find permission themselves to speak up without shame about their experiences. These are the gifts I received from Lidia from her memoir and her class.
Regarding this music choice: Not talking about death and mortality - all the things considered the darker nature in life - is infinitely more dangerous than finding the words for the reality. We need to stop making everything that is dark sinister. "...Silence", on this subject, to quote Paul Simon, "... like a cancer grows..." We are very malignant at this juncture. I picked Disturbed's version of The Sound of Silence instead of the original recording from the 60's by Simon and Garfunkel because it is SOOOOOOOOOO dramatically urgent and reflective of the danger we are in when we do not listen to those who have been silenced for so long. "...the voices of the prophets are written on the subway walls..." We need to hear from all those relegated to the shadows of shame, all the misfits, all the different voices. We need these stories so we can figure out the bigger picture of where we are all going and what we are evolving into... Hopefully we can grow into realizing ourselves as loving and compassionate human beings because, I think, that is actually what we are essentially.
~For the curious: this Blogpost explains my motivation and intention for this series of 20 essays in the Diagnosed Mortal series~