Updated: Jul 17, 2021
Diagnosed Mortal #1
Years ago, before I even settled down seriously to write my memoir, I thought I would give myself a writing assignment after I lost a fight with a treadmill. It was November 3, 2016. I was angry over the results of the election. I was walking briskly on the treadmill trying to burn off my apoplexy. I fell. I was hospitalized. One should not drive a car, operate any heavy equipment or…evidentially, utilize exercise equipment when one is out of their mind with rage and/or grief. Please make a note of it.
At that time of my life, I had been deep into the writings of Stephen Jenkinson, the author of “Die Wise” and “Come of Age”. I attended meetings of the Death Café on a regular basis. I was very much into trying to define better what I was learning about death and dying. It felt an important pursuit at the time. I was totally tapped into the subject. I had been moving towards becoming a Death Doula, thinking I might be good at that.
The fall on the treadmill resulted in severe damage to my core. So when my surgery was scheduled for Inauguration Day, I began to wonder what my odds were in surviving the surgery. In my family we have an odd penchant for dying and being born on auspicious spiritual, cultural and political days. It is not like I can pretend I didn’t notice what date had been chosen for me to be cut open! Consequently, because I’m somewhat obsessive about patterns, I decided that I would write an essay everyday up to the surgery, beginning on December 31st framing these stories as my last hurrah - my death march - to my pretend death under the knife on January 20th. It was completely an absurd premise, but I challenged myself to it and I did it. I wrote the 20 daily essays on the subject of death and dying and posted them in the (now defunct) Facebook Notes feature on line.
I was guided to my archive of these small essays recently and thought it might be fun to resurrect and rearrange them in this new multi-media BlogCast format that I’m experimenting with currently. So…you are tuning into to 13 minutes of me sharing my very first essay on death and dying that I wrote for the series called, Diagnosed Mortal. Thanks for listening….
Enjoin me as I inaugurate my pièce de résistance, my last waltz to the end...Diagnosed Mortal with this video as referenced in the audio file.
This song, “The Weight” by The Band was released in 1968. At that time I was 15 years old and deep into the “hipster scene” in the small California town of my birth. I heard this song and swooned to the new sound of it as did many in my tribe of hooligans. It resonated in us. In this way it is captured in my personal history as representing all the liberation I felt at that time. It holds a history for me in this way. Over the years and as my listening became more sophisticated, I picked up the names of people in my family in the lyrics as well as religious references and it came to represent the voices of my “clan” and the spiritual lens I inherited. Even later, the song became affiliated to my first chakra, also known as the root chakra that holds the characteristics of this energy of earth source, gravity, bloodlines, and the visceral, cellular aspect of my physical self. We always begin growing from the root. I chose the song The Weight for this post because my ancestors help me with the weight of unresolved familial issues and cultural stigmas I carry in this life. It is their weight, too; they help me with gravity and navigating my choices and even how I craft these posts.
The Band, And The Staples - The Weight (The Last Waltz)