Linda Rand with her next Pandemic Diaries column “Our Birthday Is a Shimmer of Life,” spending time in cemeteries, contemplating life, and beyond.
It’s sunny as I’m winding my way up to the cemetery. What better place to contemplate the story of a lifespan and feel its finite nature? Some will think this is depressing, but when I was younger, mortality filled me with sorrow. Of course, it still tinges everything with an exquisite pang. So much is bittersweet. But lately, I’ve found it freeing.
When I was younger, I had social anxiety and thought too much about everything to ever act naturally. But in the past years I’ve thought, If there’s something you want to do, better do it now. AND we will all be dead anyway, so don’t waste this.
If you knew this was the last day, would you do anything differently? Would embarrassment matter so much? Do you have a truth to share? What would your legacy be? And most importantly, could you do a little something sweet, for yourself, for others?
It’s interesting, all of us alive right now. There will be highs and lows and it will equal out in the end, mostly forgotten. I’ve watched people that were like demigods to me and, even reaching pinnacles of beauty and expression, they eventually grew mundane or frail, as humans will. Those that chose to share the best of themselves, well, they became the most beautiful because they lived on in the hearts of others.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a fancier cemetery. I usually go to smaller, pioneer-type places, so when I see that there’s not only a nice parking lot and winding roads but also a chapel, I am reminded of the Hollywood Hills, where I said good-bye to my very best friend a year and a half ago. It was a golden afternoon like this one.
It’s interesting, all of us alive right now. There will be highs and lows and it will equal out in the end, mostly forgotten.
I’ve had a lot on my mind lately as we all do. On a personal level—apart from the pandemic, social justice, and parenting—I’ve been thinking of what sort of mature person I’d like to be. I recently listened to an interview with Dr. David Delgado Shorter about the Yaqui or Yoeme Flower people. To paraphrase, they believe in language being generative, that they can create the world rather than only represent abstract things. So, you wouldn’t want to say things that you wouldn’t want to be true. You also wouldn’t waste a lot of words on trivialities or negativities, because they are powerful. Like incantation, they don’t only make meaning but also build the world we live in.
Around three years ago, I began having more frequent lucid dreams, slightly disturbing in their intensity. In one, I was walking along a boardwalk on a pleasant day and then I fell over the edge. Realizing I was dreaming I thought, Well, I’ll just fall UP instead, and I started ascending, but it was really rough, jarring, like when you’re pushing a rickety shopping cart over a bumpy asphalt parking lot and you can feel that unpleasant pitched shaking in your hands and wrists. It was like that, but all through the body. Then, I shot through the barrier and floated in the air above everything, peacefully bobbing as if in water. I realized I could have and do anything, absolutely anything, reality wasn’t even a factor. Only my imagination mattered here and … I … COULDN’T … THINK … OF … A … THING. Of course, I woke up then.
How often are we thinking of problems or the generic, procrastinating, avoiding? How many of us discover what COULD be, instead of thinking of what we don’t have? I’d like to practice envisioning something new, instead of only confronting my fears by naming them. That was a necessary part of developing courage, but I’d like to expand my perception as far as possible with all the time that’s left and then maybe beyond time.
As I park, a spike of excitement shoots through me. I’m out and alive! There are so many trees! I’m going to see a friend I haven’t seen since the pandemic and we will maintain social distance. It will be easy because there is no one else around.
Before I hop out of the car, I jot this into my phone: “This ecstasy I feel, though I love to share it, resides within me. It’s the shimmer of life dancing in my cells. I will always carry this.”