I am writing as an urge, an expression. Not out of guilt or fear, or anything that may usually compel me in to action. Quite the opposite. Peace was involved.
In the past two weeks, My grandmother in law, Lilian Blackshaw, passed on. Today is her funeral. I am sat next to her granddaughter on the other side of the world, as other relatives and friends are en route to gather together in a day of remembrance. As I sit here, it would be easier to be there, to be with everyone. As it stands, with 8 hours to go and in today’s current age, we would only get to middle east by the time the funeral started. Okay so we might make the end of the wake. Maybe you’ve got an inkling that that is not my point.
We are here alone. So what can I do.
Firstly, I can take care of Jen. We can talk and commemorate Lilian and her life, share our memories and honour her existence. We are about to finish work for the day and indeed this is what tonight will be about.
The question is: How do we honour her? How do we honour all those that passed before us? This is a question that interests me because it requires an active answer. Even if that is an active thought rather than action. It is still an activity. Something to do. An hour ago I took a break from my computer and compulsively got my yoga mat out and did some badass yoga. Some heavy breathing, rapid movement, body fizzing yoga. Some call it Kundalini. As I sat there at the end, body rippling and deepening into something of a rapture I answered my question. I honoured Lilian. I am at peace with her. To me, she smiles.
What happened then? Let me try to offer a little bit of detail. Posing myself a question is all about timing. The same question asked at different times in different ways will get different responses. Simple stuff. As I asked myself ‘how am I going to honour Lilian’ when I was at the end of my yoga session, I found an answer that I would not get at other times of the day, during other activities.
As my process of thinking is non-linear and most of this happened instantaneously, it provides a challenge to write things out in order. For the sake of grace, I will do my best.
The Indonesians that I live amongst instantly came to mind. I thought about their connection with their ancestors. They deify them. They turn them into their gods. How would that work for me?
A vision and a feeling of her movement into nature. And the spirit, her spirit being everywhere in everything. I can choose to remember Lilian. I can choose to see her everywhere. And in the same breath I can choose to forget her. This is a handy skill to have at certain times. This is not one of them.
For me, Lilian did not simply leave. She passed on and joined the others who were here before us. And you guessed it, for this strategy of belief that I’m figuring out; all of us will join her one day in the future.
I saw a vision (you can read: I imagined) that she went and gathered with our other ancestors. She was smiling, naturally. The wind blew through the trees and I was aware of the universal existence of nature. Everything is connected. The timing of the experience worked. I don’t think my answer would be the same on a scaffolding shift.
Lilian was a success. Everyone is. Lilian birthed, nurtured and protected a family that flourished. Even if she hadn’t she would have been a success. But she did. And this is what we will remember. We will talk of the stories and memories that defined her character, her individuality. We will sigh at the gap she leaves between those of us that are here, and it will bring us closer. In more ways than just location.
In short, to me now, Lilian is in the realm of spirit. Aha! I remember what happened just before this question came up. Deep in meditation I realised that I had neglected the possibility that my spirit can keep on growing. ‘He of big spirits’. The language, the visions and the accompanying feelings had all escaped me up to that point. A conflict of daily grind and stress, casually mapping over what for this instant gladly became exposed. And now, as I recall it is these are the very challenges that triggered this yoga session in the first place. These very stresses that I ponder during meditation in an effort to make them easier. How can I handle this differently. How can I celebrate, honour and enjoy every part of my life, beyond the toils, emotions and dramas that will always occupy the surfaces of my life. Yes, I can be of bigger spirit. ‘A highly spirited individual’. And fuck! Now that doesn’t even sound religious to me. Just Straight Badass.
Thank you Lilian. Thank you for being part of my life and thank you for helping create this wonderful lady sat beside me and the rest of her beautiful family. I could thank your ancestors too and all the way back. I could thank the stars and what not. All the way until I exhausted my imagination. For now though, the focus is on you. Yes you are connected to the bigger picture. We all are. For now, the focus is on you. Play on in spirit and we’ll remember you. And you’re cheeky smile. I’m going to go and get a whisky.