Wednesday, January 09, 2019

On Death

Let me say at the beginning, this narrative is not for everyone.  It was pointed out to me yesterday that one should write as if writing to one person. I have taken this to heart and here it is.  The personal audience for this missive will know who they are and why I am writing it.  To anyone else who is squeamish reading about death, dying and religion; maybe you should check out another blog.  I suggest  Chip Martins - Chip off the block  and you can thank The Dale Brown for making it available.
That said, you have been notified and metaphorically clicked the box that agrees with TWIAS “terms of agreement”. 

Rather than watch television speeches last night I went to Happy Hour at Larsens (my favorited neighborhood hang) with some dear friends.  The conversation wandered around every topic except politics. It eventually settled on “Death and Dying”.  One of my friends admitted to being afraid of the process and ultimate results of their own death.   In an effort to belay the fears of my friend I found myself expressing my own inner thoughts about the subject. The one thing that I am NOT afraid of is my own death. I wanted to re-express my feelings in “hard copy” to remind not only my friend but myself.  
It is hard to even mention death without touching on religion.  It is, however, the third rail in any discussion.  Death has been around a lot longer than any religion. People have been dying and seeing things die around them much longer than there have been savior surrogates.  Death has been a reality long before there were philosophies to even attempt an explanation.  To my thinking religion was created mainly to deal with the idea and result of death.  
My friend was raised Catholic.  I was raised Methodist, so most of what we know about the “afterlife” is a concept embraced and drilled into us  by the practitioners of these philosophies. And none of the people telling us how to get to heaven have ever experienced it before.  So what we have been taught about life after death is no more valid than what we know about Santa’s North Pole headquarters.  For my thinking, none of the Judo-Christian stories about heaven, hell and how you get there, make any logical sense. If there is only one thing I believe regarding Omniscience, it would be this: it operates absolutely.
To contemplate what happens after death you have to think about what we are when we’re alive. I do not believe like the “right to life people”  that life is created at conception.  If life is created when a human sperm and a human egg come together... then we should worship the sperm and the egg since they are capable of creating a human soul that lives forever.    Logic and science tell us that energy can  be neither created nor destroyed it simply changes form. I believe that is absolutely true of human life as well.  We “were” before this body and we “are” after this body has worn out.  The body is a vehicle used by our consciousness to explore the a physical universe.  It is the same as driving a car we use to get around.  A car is controlled by a human, but it is not the human.  Same idea with a physical body.  
Rather than a soul, I like to think of my identity as “consciousness”.  I believe my consciousness was around before I took over this body, and it will be around after this body wears out.  When my consciousness no longer embraces a physical body or relative universe it exists in a state of Absolute constant. In the state of Absolute, consciousness (man) and Omniscience (God) are codependent.  One can not exist without the other.  Omniscience is all knowledge (God) and consciousness (man) is the acknowledgement of all knowledge.  Knowledge can not exist without the “knowing” of its own existence.  Therefore God is always knowing and Man is always acknowledging, eternally. 
Why we need to be here on this level of human existence will not be dealt with in this blog.  I have my own theory but I have only a short time on this soap box.  With this writing I am only trying to explain to a friend that death is neither the beginning nor end of  life. As a caterpillar changes (dies) in one form the Butterfly appears (is born) in another form.  They are the same and they are completely different they are one but unrecognizable to each other.  I do not believe that a caterpillar can only change into a butterfly because a butterfly who lived 2000 years ago died “for” all other caterpillars.  
That is “mystory” you may feel differently... someday we will all know the truth. 
As you were,
Jay

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Looking Back

I have been writing this blog since 2006.  It was a daily contribution for several of those years. It started out as a memorialization of my adventure with “Jay Johnson: The Two and Only” as it ambled its way to the Helen Hayes Theater. For a while it seemed like so much was happening surrounding me and the show that it was impossible to write about it all.  That New York adventure culminated in a Tony Award and I received positive confirmation on the “writing” of the show book. 
Thirteen years later, after a year  defined by the number of good friends I’ve lost, I have developed a weird kind of writers block.   I realized after almost a life time of introspection that I am at heart a story teller.  In fact we are all story tellers and even describe our past as History (to be gender neutral Thestory). We look around us and take possession of the thoughts, dreams and ambitions with which we want to be aligned.  Some are better at expressing “thestory” than others, but we all have a tale to tell.  I have tried to figure out what is causing the block and I have come to the conclusion that it is not a problem with writing.... it is a problem of inspiration.
Ultimately it is not ones ability to structure a story that causes a writers block it is a failure to see the story unfolding in your life.  Over the past year I have unconsciously overlooked so many things to write about it would fill a blog for the next 13 years.  It is that block.  It’s as if my  grief has calcified into an obstacle that obsures my reason for writing.  I was telling my story to the very people who are now gone.  I still have things to write about but no one to tell the story to. It is like preparing to do a show in a theater that is empty. 
Knowing this does not help.  In fact giving reason to a problem makes the problem real.  I have been told I should just think of those who have departed as still reading the blog. However, since they are no longer on this plain of existence, they already know what I would be saying,  so why go to the trouble? (Note: I have a similar problem with prayer.  How can I presume to tell Omniscience something it does not know, nor can I suggest a solution Eternal Knowledge would not do without coaxing. Who is man that he would attempt to inform Infinite Knowledge of anything?)
A story teller needs a listener, a show needs an audience and an artist needs patrons.  Although art is created for its own sake it  only transcends when it is acknowleged.  I have a garage full of personal journals and old sketch pads which will all be junk to recycle when I leave this plain.  The question of whether any of it is art or just the raw material to make something else is moot. 
This is a new year and my resolution is to get back on the writers horse and try to ride it again.  I have no idea where the ride is taking me nor even if this horse is truly trained.  I’m just tired of being afraid to get out of the barn and see what is out there.
Here is a parable that seems appropriate.  
There is a man who builds a house on a hill  to have a 180 degree view of the ocean.  He loves this view of God’s handy work and finds peace and happiness each time he looks out his window.  One night there is a huge earthquake.  The house is built on a rock and other than some minor breaking of fragile glass items the house remains sound and intact.  As day breaks the man looks out his window to see that a large mountain has pushed its way out of the ground and towers above the standing hills.  It totally obscures the ocean view he once had.  The peaceful and beautiful view of the ocean he once enjoyed standing at that window is now gone. 
The man was religious and looked to his Bible for help.  He finds this verse which seems to be perfect, Mark 11:23 “22“Have faith in God,” Jesus said to them. 23“TrulyI tell you that if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and has no doubtin his heart but believes that it will happen, it will be done for him. 24Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
The man begins to pray that this mountain obstruction to his happiness be ‘lifted up and thrown into the sea’.  He prays this way every night and every day when he wakes up the Mountain is still there.  He believes, he asks, he prays but the mountain stays in place but every day the man expects his prayer to be answered.  
One day as he wakes to look out the window he sees that the mountain is still there.  He notices how the sun casts a shadow of ultraviolet blue on the side  which seems to move and make room for the beautiful glow of the morning sun to burst on the lovely green grass. The mountain is so majestic and strong while at the same time soft and engaging.  The man felt happiness and peace in this beautiful view.  It was the answer to his prayer.
As you were,
Jay