The Strange Learning

Friday, 27 May 2011

The case for death (and the case against performing animals):

When in the end, the day came on which I was going away, I learned the strange learning that things can happen which we ourselves cannot possibly imagine, either beforehand, or at the time when they are taking place, or afterwards when we look back on them.  Circumstances can have a motive force by which they bring about events without aid of human imagination or apprehension.  On such occasions you yourself keep in touch with what is going on by attentively following it from moment to moment, like a blind person who is being led, and who places one foot in front of the other cautiously but unwillingly.  Things are happening to you, and you feel them happening, but except for this one fact, you have no connection with them, and no key to the cause or meaning of them.  The performing wild animals in a circus go through their programme, I believe, in that same way.  Those who have been through such events can, in a way, say that they have been through death - a passage outside the range of imagination, but within the range of experience.
Karen Blixen - Out of Africa

There is much to be said for learning to die well while you live.  You can go kicking and screaming all the way down, if you want, even if you know that life tends to lie out the other side of all of those deaths.  Even if they are not what you want, or maybe even not what you can see for months or years.  The possibilities that lie within one small seed, maybe they lie too in all our deaths.  Maybe even most in our most meaningless ones.

So you kick and scream all the way down even if you do feel life lying just beyond death because while you know that, you also don't know that, or you forget, because in those perpetual death places you can't for the life of you remember being anywhere else ever.  And then the life breaks in once more and again, you remember the meaning of perspective.

Learning to die to live feels part of the great circle.  Not a line, to me.  Not something linear that ends at some point (even though it will - or will it?)  Yes, a circle, a spiral.  Coming round and round back to the same places again, feeling like a breath of some sort of grace, the different angle examined, the new puzzle piece learned.  

And you come up over the hill and it all breaks open before you for the millionth time, like sparks, and you remember what you have always known, and have forgotten again:  it's love.  Love holds it all together.


  1. over the past ten years or so I've had so many 'deaths', and many as you say, kicking and screaming

    when we survive it even once, why is it that we are still surprised when we once again see the view that beckons to a vista-full life laying ahead of us?

  2. Sometimes I think it is because we live in a culture that does not think there is any life after death. Sometimes I think that culture affects us more than we know.

    But yeah, apart from that ... I don't know!! It's so weird!

    (Some days I can almost say that getting to the vista view is worth the death ... other days I just shudder :\ :)

  3. Love holds it all together...

    "Love is the synthesis of all things..." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    There is nothing to fear as it's only the 'little self' - the ego - that fears its demise. And that's just an idea in our minds.

    Just my take on it:)


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