I've reached an important moment in my emotional development (but does it really count if I can acknowledge it as it occurs?), but this time is incredibly difficult to describe. It's more of a state of being, not like a stage of development and more like a new level of awareness. Buddhist-style.
I am absolutely in love with life. Not just my life, which is pretty damn awesome, but life. Komodo dragons, oak trees, baby foxes, wheat fields, rice paddies, mushrooms. Life. Sometimes I can feel my heart swelling with adoration of everything alive...as if I, a human being, am literally absorbing the richness of being from our Mother. The closest image I can formulate to present my state of being is this - me, lying in a field of grass (the frolicking kind), just simply being. Becoming the grass. [And no, I'm not talking about that kind of grass, you freaks.]
But that reminds me of other times in my life when I've had this feeling. None of those times were natural, if you catch my drift, and each time was followed by a period of disconnection. I had felt connected to the world around me but I wasn't part of it in the end. In fact, afterwards when I was myself again, I just felt empty, as if the joy that had puffed me up had been slowly and painfully extracted from my heart, leaving my soul with a gaping wound that nothing could fill.
Anyways, back to my whole connection to life. The more aware I am of the beauty of life, the more in love I become with being alive. And, then, the more in love I am with being alive, the more scared I am to die. I once heard lyrics to some Boy Least Likely To song where the singer says something like, "If I didn't like living so much, I wouldn't be so afraid to die." Before, I sang to this song without much thought...and now I completely understand. I am terrified of dying. Although I believe that I will return once again, I love my life, this life.
Also, the more I am in love with life, the more I find life-affirming things to reflect on. Currently, I am madly in love with La Blogotheque's Take Away Shows. La Blogotheque is a production group based in France that gets some of today's most awesome musical artists and gets them to perform in streets, in elevators, in apartments, in bathrooms, wherever their music takes them, and records it. The resulting film is usually not edited or simply edited for time, meaning that the music is raw and real. No overdubbing or retakes, just pure, simple music. Naked. Beautiful.
They've been doing this for a few years, so there's plenty to choose from. Here are my favorites, in no particular order.
- Man Man. There's a lot of build up to the final video, but it's totally worthwhile to watch all of them. They get these kids from the street to help them make music and it's purely genius. It's completely the spirit of La Blogotheque - to remember the human love of music, to hear, to create, and perform it, together.
- Bon Iver, parts I and II. Now, I have to admit that this was my introduction to Bon Iver (boo Laura for being behind on her music!), but I can't get enough. There's this simplicity to his music that touches my spirit. It's so sad, but it's honest. It's human. There's also a really good story behind his music (bad breakup, poor health, etc. led him to spend three months in a cabin in Wisconsin - I think - and voila - brilliant music!). Anyways, be sure to watch the one for "For Emma, Forever Ago" because it's some great acapella.
- Yeasayer. By far, one of my favorite Take Away Shows ever, ever, ever. They're a great band to begin with, but their Redcave on the subway is phenomenal. Plus, listen to the lyrics at the end of it...completely how I'm feeling these days.
- Sound Team. An Austin band, filmed in Austin. No more explanation needed. (Oh, they also sing in front of an immigration rally, with a ton of Mexican flags. Que bueno!)
- Andrew Bird. I. Fucking. Love. Andrew. Bird.
- Arcade Fire. The first ever video I saw from La Blogotheque, and I just read that Take Away Shows were created for Arcade Fire. Anyways, it's just a big fucking wow. Ripping a magazine with the beat? Talk about a musical orgasm!
- The stop-motion animation for his song Lull. Beautiful, strange, lovely.
- Andrew Bird as Dr. Stringz on some weird ass show on Noggin. My heart melts.
Anyways, before I forget, back to the whole life thing. Next semester I want to embark on a journey of epic proportions (I like the word "epic" tonight, apparently). Since I love life so much, I want to confront death head-on. I either want to volunteer at a hospice for AIDS victims or at a nursing home, just being with the people there. I don't know which I'd prefer...AIDS would be good for my resume to join the Peace Corps, but I would also really like to learn from the older generations. They have so much wisdom to give us young, impressionable ones and they deserve to have their voices heard. But I am also deathly afraid of elderly people ever since my grandma was in a nursing home for the last years of her life. Hmm. Dilemmas.
A closing image. My grandmother was a vegetable for the last few years of her life. She had horrible, horrible Alzheimer's, which caused her to lose everything - not just her memories, but also her ability to eat, speak, or walk. For years she could only scream and moan to communicate, and at times she seemed just like a child, unaware of the world around her and only present to her pain.
Visiting her was so hard and I was so young. Sometimes I could have sworn that I saw some recognition in her eyes, some vague remembrance that yes, I was her granddaughter and that she loved me dearly. But those moments were fleeting. I remember the smell of the home, not that it was a poorly managed one, but just the smell of age. I connect that smell to sadness now, and loss.
When she died...well, when she died, I didn't really feel a sense of loss. I felt relief. She wasn't dependent on people to do everything for her. She didn't need diapers or a feeding tube. She was free. But looking at her in her casket was, as they say, like seeing a shell of a person. It wasn't my grandmother in that grave, it was simply a body. But I could barely look at that body anyhow.
A year or so later I found a picture of my grandmother somewhere, the place and time escape me. But she was younger, though not "young," smiling and standing on a deck next to a lake surrounded by evergreens. And though she had wrinkles, unsightly glasses, and short, curly, thinning, gray and white hair, she was beautiful. She was happy. She was alive, and not just in the biological sense. She was alive.
That is how I remember her, now.
I know I will die someday, but I hope that I will live in the way she did that day on the dock.
[Sorry for the excessive use of italics and links...today was just an italicized link kind of day.]
Oh crap, a post script! Here is something that affirms life. The trailer for Earth, the movie they're making from the Planet Earth series, which totally blew my socks off. I almost cried when I saw the trailer for the first time (maybe because I was PMS-ing hard core), but it's just beautiful. And then they just had to choose the most perfect Sigur Ros song to go with it.
Dude, I just cried when I made sure it was the full trailer...oh, life.