Walking Around Cemeteries

This is a link to Urbpan’s post about his guided nature walk around Cedar Grove Cemetery, which I think is near Boston.

planted boots

This photo caught my eye: planted boots.  The inscription says, “Miss you Uncle John”.

I had a conversation about “sentiment” recently and how to make “place” and space for objects that reflect things that signify important remembrances. This is something that humans do, out of (almost?) all other animals.  However, often things just get piled up and instead of being beautiful and significant they become just a confusion of “stuff” and garbage.

This pair of boots with plants growing out of them are like a poem of remembrance and a recognition of impermanence. They stand in perfect contrast to all the cold stone markers.

100 words

Midway, Canadian National Exhibition:
Stroller pushers and sticky handed candy floss flossers.

Ring toss tossers,
Swing the hammer swingers.

Show-off muscle builders, and
“Try again to win the giant Panda for your pretty gal” geezers.
The spin-around-ride riders and the roller coaster fanatic-ers: 
the first time and next time and “never again”ers.
The “Guess your weight” guessers and the “Don’t you dare” darers,

The bump into-ers and the “Watch it!” accusers.

The tummy aching throwing-up-ers
Cry-baby mommy worriers,

and the “going home now” goers,

The let go of balloon losers.

The big, red balloon
as it gracefully

 floats away.

There are a lot of things to feel sad about.

A few years ago I had just gotten out of the hospital when I learned of the tsunami that hit South East Asia.  I remember thinking, wow, the earth is way more upset than I am.   I had started crying for no reason and could not stop so I checked in to the hospital after not sleeping for 48 hours and they gave me a nice pink pill and I slept for a while, got fitted with a therapist, an appointment and sent home.

I got a diagnosis  of “chronic depression”.  I tried medication for a while and I worked while taking it.  It was difficult.    I eventually went off the drug.  I was told  that I had probably been chronically depressed since childhood.   Right or wrong I did not feel the drug was the way for me to deal with it.

It was Christmas. I was overwhelmed by of loss and hopelessness.  I had lost a few friends.  Some of them had been cancer patients. Some of them simply fell away.  Two long time relationships came to an end. One of them ended by choice, the other not so much.  My kids were all teenagers.  So there were personal things, but there were also global things.  Everything was just so sad. 

I would say I am still basically depressed.  It is my personal “flavour”.  (I’m told that I am very funny). I  laugh, get mad and cry.  I try not to have too many expectations and I filter out the negative as much to compensate for this tendency to think the worst.  I don’t mind feeling this way.  I think in some ways it helps me be more compassionate.  Sometimes the only thing that can make me feel better is to try to help someone else feel better.

It’s funny in a way that I eventually found Clowning.  I quite literally “put on a happy face”.  Clowning provides an opportunity to play;  to address difference; to air out fears; to joke about the unknown without being so artless as actually saying so.  

Clowning is so flagrantly inappropriate, it makes other things that we find difficult to talk about less inappropriate.  


I’m a sensitive clown. 😛

The Importance of Giving Recognition to Childrens’ Concerns…

I’ve been reading:  “Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart, A Buddhist Perspective on Wholeness”   Epstein, M.D. and he tells a wonderful story about a time when his young son suddenly became very clingy and upset every time they had to leave him.  Previously he had no problems with separation.  They tried treats and cajoling and nothing seemed to work.

Indirectly, through play they learned that he was aware that his grandmother had cancer and though very young, he knew that people died of cancer without having the words for it.  It was so indirect that when he said “daddy makes dinner”  and he was asked where mommy was he answered, “she died of cancer.”  Obviously the fact that people die was something he was trying to process on his own.  This was when Mr. Epstein wisely said, “You know, some people die of cancer but some people get better.  Grandma is getting better.”

The fear of separation disappeared immediately.  The acknowledgement that some people die was as important as some people get better.  The fear had a name and a context.  It became something that could be expressed and something that he could express with his parents.

While acknowledging emotion and circumstances we are releasing them for ourselves and our children; secondly we are better at coping with the impact of difficulties in our lives and so are they. Once this is done it is important to get back to living. 

I won’t pretend to have handled these things very well all the time but I do remember the times when through luck and maybe a bit of understanding I was able to recognize what was going on and address their concerns and how wonderfully healing it proved to be.  While on a train, having said a difficult goodbye they were gripped by fits of tears.  There I was with three bawling kids and I was falling apart too. I had recently started seeing a Buddhist monk who was giving me a lot help with the tidal wave of emotions that difficult time in our lives had brought with it.  This little gem was so important: “You won’t feel like this forever.”

While we might think impermanence is something to fear, it is a part of life and at times it can be what we can recognize as a beautiful and generous, like laughter after tears, or the glistening raindrops held briefly on the petals of a flower after a storm.