Saturday, June 30, 2012

Well, yes. Just well.

Wow. Well ... weird and weary, woozy but yes, well.
Wired,wandering and wending with no vested intent but vaguely westward.
Wonderful, in its way.

This is me just reflecting myself as it gets onto 48 hours since my last feed.  A few half-cups of kefir is all, to settle the stomach. Seems to help things be smooth.  The mind mainly slickly moves to match my body, or perhaps it is the other way around.  Spirit; it is centred, so it seems, which is enough.

The only thing that isn't slower now is the rate of change. That's rather the reverse, my body is shutting down faster now, a pace is gently picking up.  So I shan't stay here writing long, I'm off to stand while standing is still something I can do, in the patch of warm sun, doing what it does, late on this beautiful day.

Live your moment well too.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Calling Time

"Last drinks please, ladies and gentlemen; it is time."

The emphasis was always squarely on the last word in this sentence I have called out in bars late at night on more occasions than I care to remember; "... it is time." Very often tapping my wristwatch held aloft, for those doing their thinking solely visually at this stage.

I'm calling last drinks on life today (Thursday, my time); as of tonight my feeds will all have run out, and the only thing of any caloric value I will imbibe is a little kefir if I need it tomorrow and the day after as my stomach gets used to being empty.  Last drinks. It's time. The end of counting is nigh.

So in some ways it's all about time again. I'm sure that my journey into the nature of that very stuff, the actual experience of time passing that we call life, will continue to change right up until there is no more of it in the sense I know and measure a breath at a time in this busted old broken-ass body; the vessel of me that St Francis of Assissi used to disparagingly refer to as 'Brother Donkey.'

Why now? I don't know.  There are a hundred reasons why now is the right time, but it's not their force put together as an argument that makes this right.  It is not any single main thing, nor has there been some irrevocable tipping point reached; this is not a flailing bid to avoid being pushed by some circumstance, and nor is it a desperate attempt to reassert at least some control over my own destiny at any cost. There is an element of every feeling in this moment.  Perhaps one of the more compelling factors is that there really is no reason against it.  It is most certainly not the 'wrong' time to die. It is just time. The right time. I say this grounded firmly, sound of mind and spirit, and believing myself to be clearly interpreting what is right in a Divine sort of sense, as well as a mundane one. That this decision is as much guidance from Godhead (whatever, etc) and my 'self'. And now you know too.

I've known for a few days, but needed to be a little more inward with things about it before letting the bigger world in on it.  You know, special moments with Meeta, and practical considerations like getting advice on medication changes and so on from my doc were important things for example.

What happens next?  I don't know.  Physically for me, I have some idea of what to expect and I shan't burden you here with details or speculation for it's all only probabilities anyway.  You can google things like life expectancy without nutrition and then guess wildly how my particulars will fall into the bell curves of probability and prognoses.  It's measured in weeks and days, not months and weeks. That's a good framework, if you need one.

Will I keep writing? How will you know when I'm gone?  To the first question I'd say probably, a little bit. I don't know.  Maybe not.  To the second I can tell you a few things:

You know I have arranged with one special friend to look after my online affairs upon my demise (and I am thankful for this every time I think of it) and she will put up a blog post here that I have pre-prepared, and post a link on Facebook, etc.  At least, that is the plan.  Then later there will be funeral details as they become firm, and then one last post including the last few words of mine which I am having read at the funeral, so that those unable to make it can read that too.  The blog will stay here, until entropy eventually claims it too, is the plan.

The funeral?  Of course you are invited, if you wish to pay your respects in that way.  I do not expect that many of you here shall make it of course, living as my social circle seems to all around the globe (what a world, eh?) and my having long ago shed a face-to-face surrounding of many friends and acquaintances, as once I had.  You will be able to RSVP via the blog post later, I am sure my online 'oops buddy' will make proviso there etc.

It will be a natural burial, almost certainly at Northam Cemetery (in fact I can see the very plot from my balcony here, a few degrees East of the roof of my house) a few days after my death.  I shall be wrapped in my favourite natural-dyed alpaca/llama wool poncho from Bolivia, in a new type of non-toxic recycled cardboard coffin, unembalmed, all of that.  That is the plan.

Please do not send flowers.  Meeta will look after the floral stuff for the day, and if you are attending, you will see that I ask you later to bring a spray of leaves or a small branch from your garden or a plant you love nearby to hold ans use on the day.  More on that in time, nothing needs your attention now.  If you wanted to pass a message on to Meeta or the others of my extended family, the blog post comment section will be open once the post is up, and any messages you leave will be able to be seen by others.  My oops buddy will make arrangements for anyone who wishes to send something more privately; see the post on the day.  For those who do wish to contribute the natural burial fund will remain open for a little while now only (see link above to the right), and any funds received in excess of need for the expenses of my interrment will be used wisely, well and charitably for the good of the rest of our planet, be assured.  After all, that's what this is all about isn't it?  Going back around. Honouring the cycles. Giving back to nature. Letting the entropy be equal to the light in our hearts and minds.

So that's it folks, that's all I wanted to say right now, so everyone knows.

Good night for now, then.

I trust this message finds you peaceful and well, and that your life today has extra love in it.
Thank you for having been here thus far.
Thank you for being here now.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Reality? Check. (Notes from TWATEOTU #6)

The days have been passing peacefully up here in my hermitage, my Last Place. It's been another of those times of limbo; a sort of holding pattern as I circle about waiting for the landing.

It's a strange and timeless land, this near-death place.  Since coming here this last time I have had several neighbours come and go, to whence I know not in most cases.  We mainly seem to die at night and very often certain classes of fellow inmate at the Ward At The End Of The Universe seem to choose to head home at the very last minute.  To make sure they're really, really dying now and have the ambulance deliver them there so they can breathe their last at home.  Since I first started visiting here, I'd say maybe one in five or six choose that sort of option.  Not me, of course, as previously mentioned.

Despite there being so many beginnings and especially endings here, time however seems to stand apart so much of the ... time, now, for me at least.

Partly, we can put that down to my physical state.  I am like treacle, glacially sticky as I ooze down my own mortal gravity well, as my gut and indeed my whole carcass (you'd think of carcass too, as in an abattoir setting, if you saw me in the actual flesh, as I do in the mirror) slows down and pulls inwards and inwards.  The pain increases, and because I dislike too much pain, so does the dose of painkiller, and around and around we go.  The drugs slow things further, eventually causing more pain.  I recall that was always a key assumption of The Plan, and it seems to be working out more or less accordingly.

You might be tempted to think that I am deeply self-involved and meditative all the while, introspective and preparing for what lies ahead, doing all that spiritual 'work' that we all know we ought to do, and in part of course this is right, I am.  But also, not so much.

The banality of simply drawing breath is also important.  Watching the football, even though I can not know how my team will finish this year (tantalisingly top of the ladder as I write, hooray!), and even now falling into new mundane, oh-so-mortal habits of doing.  I notice that I notice 3:00PM coming up on weekdays for example, for there is one of those SAHM-targetted cooking shows on then that I quite enjoy.  It's just some guy who is pleasant company for half an hour and whose approach to cooking I quite enjoy.  Irony?  Who, me? But yeah, it's a habit that I have, to remember it's on and decide whether to watch. I usually do, unless there are visitors.  And having done so a few times, I have formed a new attachment.

That is the way of just living though, isn't it?  We attach to everything we touch, like toddlers learning the world through our mouths over and over, everything goes in and gets eventually, somehow, slotted home into some unthinking category.  Not as if I have anything else I need to be doing at 3:00.  But I have no fear of attachment left in me.  I see them fall off me all the time, new and old alike.  It's like all the glue on my exterior has been magically dissolved,and it takes only the merest waft of breeze for even clattering old monuments to the habitual and life-defining to slip away and disappear forever. Effortless, and not needful of my attention or time, for the main.

It would be disingenuous to pretend there wasn't also a habit of pressure on myself to do this 'right' though.  I might use that time far better more consciously meditating (or praying), cleaning up my mind some more, doing the rituals and practises that pass for my own syncretic version of religiosity.  I feel deeply the truth that so much of my lifespan has in many ways been a missed opportunity to be more prepared with death, and thus, more engaged with living a great life.  Beat myself up?  No, not any more.  I have just decided that daytime cooking shows are as sacred a possibility as and spiritual practice.  What my mind does while watching such TV pap is a most interesting thing to observe, and I do a lot of that, almost as an outsider.  Just look back at me.  The pressure, of course, is simply another tricky little way of my ego asserting its supposed right to existence as an 'other'.  Silly bloody way to build a species if you ask me ;-)

I love that guy.  Me, I mean, when I step outside of myself and look at me I love him, myself.  It feels slightly different from when I feel it when I am more totally 'in' my body.  There is something important there.  It is also undeniably wonderful to leave a body which has chronic aches for a spell.  Makes you appreciate the value of pain when you come back in, as well.

So, TV, DVDs, (I have over the last 6 months or so watched every episode ever made of Upstairs, Downstairs, would you believe, and loved every minute), reading when my eyes and hands let me do so easily and lately audiobooks.  Music, so much music, but that blurs the lines - I use it very consciously for soulwork also. Plus messing about online.  This is the filler I do to Occupy Mind Street, but unlike in the protest movement's sense of occupation I just like to give it (the mind) something to get distracted with so I can allow other things, the roiling cauldron of change underneath all this mighty mundanity, to bubble and steam as it needs to.  To get out of my own way.

What I have found, is that stuff is getting done without my doing a thing.  What I mean is I am aware that all this ravelled self, these billions of miles of threads that have woven the me I think I am today need to get loosened so help me slip out of the world here as peacefully as I can, which is really my only aim in life.  I used to think that it would require my attention consciously, once upon a time.  In fact, I thought such thoughts and held such beliefs incessantly for decades.  But then I discovered that daytime cooking shows can also allow the space for enlightenment to creep in around the edges.  That you don't even have to have good intentions; it just happens when you let yourself step aside.

And every now and then, to have a ramble like this to see things out in front of myself is just the ticket to checking this reality, that everything in life, and thus vis-a-vis death, is of equal importance. Check.

There are no major news announcements today, nothing of import to report, although there is plenty changed underneath, of which I will speak at some length when the pot next needs some attention. For right now, the simmering continues within, all energetic with heat and dense with mortality, all the while another full frame of me soars about, just circling, looking at this great wide landscape of me, of place, of time, and just letting go of looking for a landing place. For I know it is near, and that I shall recognize it when it hoves into view.

Peace and contentment upon you, dear reader, and thank you for your company this evening.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Every Day I Make New Life

A little while back I posted something about all the 'lasts' there have been.  You know, doing this and that the last time, and how little import such thoughts seem to have compared to how much we all (I think) suppose there should be attached to our 'last-time-evers.'

One of those things I did for the last time was start a batch of kefir.

I make kefir from starter sachets.  They make these by spray-drying kefir cultures, called grains.  I make organic cow's milk kefir a litre at a time, and the first litre of a new batch is always a little bit exciting.  They are all a teeny bit different in either consistency, aroma, in all sorts of ways really, and this is how you'd think it ought to be with a natural process.  Temperature and time affect it, as do factors like how often I agitate my fermentation container, and how often I open the lid and let it breathe etc.  Then of course, there is the variation caused by environmental bacteria - that introduced from the air, and from me, as I make and handle it all.

To make the next batch, you just use a bit of the previous batch as a starter, and add another litre of milk. A batch can take from 12 to 24 hours to ferment, I find.  They say the sachets are good for 5 or 7 generations, after which time the colonies of bacteria and fungi (there are somewhere between 20 and 50 different organisms that make an average kefir culture) have change more into a yoghurt than a kefir, those bacilli like the acidophillus strains being more aggressive.  The milk also clabbers at some point, which is to say it starts to separate out into curds and whey.  I just shake it back together again, which it seems to love, and then the clabbering stops, seemingly never to recur.

What I've found though, is that with a bit of listening, a bit of kefir-whispering and paying attention to the subtle changes, it is not just good beyond those 7 generations, but it seems to tend back towards a more complex, rather than less complex, kefir after a point.  Grains start to form of their own accord.  Environmental bacteria get a look-in, much of which naturally will be directly back from my personal microbiome, that multibillioncelled 'other' me whose cells outnumber me, and which makes up as much as 10% of my mass.  It becomes a very personal kefir.

This batch has met Meeta too, as she's helped me prepare a feed or two using it, so it has gotten added goodies from her; most or many of which I probably share already.

So I decided when I moved out of home up here to hospice ... oh, and I have to tell you something about that too, I'll come back to that ... that I'd make a fresh batch of kefir to take with me, and it's a really fine batch in every way.

The title of this post is misleading, as really I only make a new batch every 2 to 3 days on average, but the feel of the title is right nonetheless, and if not taken so literally, then ...

It's a wonderful meditation on life, the simple art and act of kefir making.  Possibly one of the most simple and direct ways of communing with the cycle of life and consumption of life we can do. I think of it more as farming than anything else; husbanding a herd of microbiota to thrive and have the best possible life they can have, that I may feast of their offspring and even more importantly the by-products of their own deaths.  It has become a holy little thing, this humble plastic flask (BPA-free food grade etc etc) of whitish liquid that comes out of the fridge to keep me company from time to time, prompting me to give it a little shake or not as the mood strikes, or memory kicks in.  Slowly changing hue and ever-so-gently pushing out the sides of the flask as a moderate gas pressure builds up, undoubtedly a living thing.  It and the blends that Meeta brings are still all of my subsistence, materially speaking.

Today, I had a half a minute of wistfulness as I started up another batch that shortly it too, would die, but it felt nice.  I feel like I understood something about ancient urges to take companions (wives, horses, soldiers etc) into death with you.  It would be a bit like taking a talisman of this 'other' me, my microflora self.  Haha, perhaps like the legendary Chinese court eunuch's testicles in a jar.

And this, I note, is my very first attachment to any projected thought about an afterlife.  I really have never clung to an image-projection of What Next Looks Like in that way before.  Odd, but cute I guess.  I mean, of course the kefir has soul.

Kefir will be the last sustenance I take, I'm almost certain. The last food in life I came to. Seems right.

Anyway, about that leaving home thing; yes, I'm not going back now.  For one thing, I'm not sure I'd manage the steps. But more importantly it's just time.  That thing inside we call home (and it's interesting that my second-favourite t-shirt at the moment is a cartoony big happy-looking snail) has detached enough from the house.  In one sense, I left it too long to go back.  Even just in this last, what, two weeks is it? three? that I have been here I have changed too much for the house to fit me. And also, I have no real desire left to go back.  I do miss the dogs but they still visit me.  As for Buckley:  Well, cats are ... cats are OK like that I find.  I experience animal telepathy with cats, and always have.  I just assumed all my life that this was normal and when I discovered as a child that apparently it's not a mainstream view I sort of just shut up about it.  I mean, 'cat people' know anyway, and so do cats, so what does it matter?  So Bucks and I, we're OK.

So I'm glad of that too.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Ham Steak. Meaning of Life. Etc.

This was unexpected.  That there should still be weird food cravings popping up and triggering reminiscences, moods, and so on is not surprising at all of course but that I should find myself seized by a fierce craving, as of yesterday, for something that would never have even made it to a 'top few-hundred' list of my past favourite foods from any time period is odd.

Especially as I'm also doing it in my head with pineapple, which I once used to assiduously remove from pizza or any such cooked or meaty environment.  Pineapple? Yum. Ham?  Yes, sometimes I used to be partial to a bit of cured pig, especially in that modern Anglo-Aussie seasonal Xmas ham way of things.  Ham is after all related to bacon, that most notorious of gateway fleshes for former carnivores.

Other foody items have popped up to spark a memory, spin me around for a while in reverie of something that turns out in my present hyper-connected-to-something state to have a revelatory and profound meaning for me, (NOTE to self; consider making a list, could be interesting) but none with the force of ham steaks.  Grilled, with pineapple, and maybe a few starchy vegetable extras.

Then the penny dropped.

Long Pig.

I'll back up a step.  Naturally, I queried myself when the thought of ham steaks being delicious, toothsome and desirable, deeply, to my own fleshly being, down to the very ache in my bones, sprang - flooringly powerfully - from whence I know not.  Had the thought as earlier; I never really liked ham steaks much anyway.  They remind me somewhat of my father; he liked such things, and as a food I associate them with him.  Maybe they were served on special Dad-treat occasions during my childhood.  Certainly, again as was the modern tradition in the second half of the 20th Century in these parts, the Man Of The House was also Meat Master, including Lord Of The Annual Ham at Xmastime.  It was a role I was aware of, tucked away in my future-self psyche down what was even then in early childhood a dark and uninviting passageway; the route down which I married young, and took my kids to see the fireworks for the year 2000 at the Sydney Opera House, imagining it as an already-worn family ritual.  One day I would be The Man, in charge of things like Meat, and especially the sacred Ham, in my own House.

The house that carried the name of my father.  Truly though, even then I knew that wasn't going to happen.

Ham steaks are different creatures entirely from, say, common or garden-variety sandwich ham, the kind you find cheaply the White Person world over and best disguised between industrial-grade white commercial bread and butter.  Different too from the other end of the scale, the gourmet offerings from particular regions or locales, the finely sliced perhaps slightly smokey variety one may find layered in a lovely croissant with some good melted cheese.  See there's a thing that would have made a top-fifty list for me, right there, a good quality ham and cheese croissant.  Not only a classically satisfying combination of all the flavours the Western palate has been raised this last hundred years to crave, but one which features for me in so many happy times.  It sits in a wonderful place in memory. Maybe top twenty-five even, thinking about it.  But no, this is about the essential ham steak.

Despite the varieties of ham available to mankind, the ham steak is pretty much a sameish thing.  Pineapple is a classic combination for it in no small measure because the digestive qualities of the pineapple are perfectly attuned to assist the body in rendering that fats and proteins in the meat available to us, but also because it's one of the few flavours one could put beside the salty immensity of an inch thick chunk of cured fatty pig leg and not be completely overwhelmed or simply clash horribly.  Some would argue that the latter is exactly the case anyway.  It doesn't really matter how you cook it or what ham you use, a ham steak is a commitment to eat.  It's already been through a whole lengthy process of becoming tasty, delectable cured piggy and now you're going to insult it by adding more fat (probably) and grilling it.

There is just so much wrong with this picture it's hard to know where to start. Or even where to look.  
This photo strikes me as a classically Australian idiosyncratic expose.

I wonder, would a ham steak on the smokier end of the flavour spectrum be good grilled, smeared with a dab of quince paste, then topped with a sort of tapenade paste of finely chopped kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and crumbled goat's cheese?  Cracked black pepper, fresh at the end.  Crusty but light wholemeal loaf, with butter.  Side dish of warm green bean and beetroot salad. Just a thought.  But no, it's still the hunk of grilled ham, with pineapple, and the commitment of slicing into it with a knife and fork repeatedly, chewing and swallowing hunks of it until it has all been consumed.

For I do remember now that  ham steak is something that was difficult to finish.  By the end, it was just too intense. That much flavour is fine, but when it's an amount of meat normally associated with uncured, relatively bland cow flesh - a beef steak for example - I seem always to have felt some regret at having started in on a ham steak, those times it was a choice I made, at a BBQ, or something.  Maybe if I had liked the pineapple back then, I don't know.

Yes, I'm still starving.  My actual weight seems more to be in conversion than dropping so much.  What I mean is that my muscle mass is declining even further, but I'm retaining fluid in places, bloating and so forth.  My diet has changed a little, with Meeta making my blends from a wider variety of things.  My relationship with feeding continues to change and morph apace, and I find myself less and less wanting it.  I am wedged in now; I cannot any longer feed any more than I do anyway, and my overall mass maintains its inexorable direction. Exactly what I'm putting in seems less important now by a huge degree, compared to only a week or two ago when I had the urge to cleanse and purge somewhat.

But seriously, ham steaks? There just isn't enough history there for me personally to explain the depth of this one.  I asked myself and did some semi-scientific postulation about what nutrients my body might be codedly signalling me for in the face of this starvation diet, and naturally one can make a case for protein, fat, salt, even the sugar.  Maybe because it's such a dense flavour packet some part of my imagination is seeking magic fuel bullets with massive caloric and micronutrient impact ... nah.  It just doesn't stand up.

The penny did drop, though.  And it's related to what my body craves nutritionally.  I am wanting to eat my own self.

Long Pig is a term variously attributed to any one of a plethora of erstwhile (or perhaps even present-day) cannibalistic cultures who also made use of porcine flesh in their diets; most probably from the Marquesas Island area in Polynesia.  It refers to human flesh, as it is said that the closest taste and texture match for we human folk is pig.  And a ham steak is about as visceral and potentized a form of pig you can get.  The pineapple only adds to its power.  I am, very simply, craving beyond any food stuff now, I am craving the very fabric of my own flesh, for what the body recognizes at its deepest layers.  The animal craves its own existence, carnally.

Makes you wonder a bit more deeply about what exactly goes through the heads of people who find themselves suddenly, outside of any cultural context, faced with the question of eating a fellow person to stay alive.

(It's a moneybox. Geddit? ;-)

Penny dropped, a nasty dead and dull thud as if edge-on to a softwood kitchen table under a heavy cloth, the image and desire immediately began to ebb away, mercifully.  But not before some bizarre clashes of imagery erupt startlingly, too floatingly surreal to attempt in words for you here I'm afraid.  A 'you had to be there' moment or several. :-)

What made the whole ham steak thing come upon me I cannot say.  Can't recall a trigger anywhere.  But I can tell you when that penny dropped; watching a program on TV about young women starting out, or contemplating, new lives as nuns.  I shan't bother to explain.

Anyway, thanks as always for bystanding in that special and supportive way you do.  I'm glad that is over now.  Because I really, really, don't like ham steaks.  Never really did.  Yet for a good twenty-four hours roughly, give or take, ham steak became one of the Most Important Things In All Creation.  To me, that is.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Custard Tarts

In my life's experience, there are two sorts of custard tarts.  There are the Australian bakery-stock type, similar to the above, with their thin almost biscuity sweet crust and solid-wobbling canary-vivid yellow filling, dusted by the merest hint of what is at least generally referred to as nutmeg.  And then there are those made by people who care, infinitely more subtle, varied, and satisfying to the senses.

All my life I've loved both these creatures, but for very different reasons.  The industrial-quality tarts did duty for decades as a fill-in fuel source between regular mealtimes, often when I'd missed a meal, as a fast-to-eat sugar/fat/protein hit that fills you up for a while, and usually extremely cheaply too; an important factor in so many of my life's years.  The choice of custard tart over some other sort of cheap bakery type item does relate to the other type of tart though, in that when you're plowing through the centre of your cold yellow mass straight out of the display fridge you are reminded of the existence of actually fine and magnificent gourmet custard tarts, albeit elsewhere in time and place, but there now in your mind nonetheless.  One can momentarily transport oneself; 'upgrade' one's custard tart experience, perhaps, for just a moment.  But also the joy is simple; luscious mouthfeel, sweetness, and the special satisfying heaviness that only comes from a cold custard.

The finest of custard tart experiences, with the artisan variety, can be transporting in their own rights.  I am now taken back to the finest custard tart moment of my life, early 2000s, NSW town of Bateman's Bay, we'd just moved there.  How we came to be in Bateman's Bay is quite a story in itself, following a great unravelling series of seeming misfortunes and blunders, and it would be fair to say that when we arrived there we were not in exactly the most tip-top, resilient and sparkling shape.  But it's a truly beautiful part of the world, and I had secured employment, we had a house to live in ... things were looking upwards now at any rate.

As I always had done, I made it a priority to discover the bakeries of the new town, and uncovered a fair-sized alfresco cafe/bakery that made and served a most eclectic array of baked sweets and savouries, doing a roaring trade to complement all the seafood restaurants in this coastal resort destination town.

These custard tarts were only small, definitely no larger around than a CD, But tall-sided in a puffier pastry.  And you could see that the custard filling had been baked to a just-perfect consistency from the browned blistery layer caramelised on top.  A gourmet baked custard tart must hover in its consistency right on the tipping point of the egg just starting to scramble, you want that almost-splitting textural delight on the tongue. The nutmeg had, and I saw it happen with my own eyes, been freshly grated on to the tarts. Everything about them was just right.  Yes they were expensive. Yes we were so broke. But food is great like that.  Sometimes food has that magical quality of enhancing a certain experience, of boosting a moment in time into the stuff of great and joyful memories, the recollection now of biting gently into the first tart I ever purchased from their counter that day.  A half-cloudy sky, seagulls, the beautiful water's edge, and cashed-up enough to indulge in the very best that life has to offer.

I doubt I'd have remembered that day at all if not for that custard tart.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Inevitability Remains

True.  That's what inevitability does, it remains.  That's its job, to remorselessly, incessantly, be there as a future certainty.  But it's an overused feeling, the feeling of inevitability, for only one thing consistently proves inevitable in human experience, doesn't it?

My last post had me running ahead of the curve somewhat; counterintuitively buying time (time to think, choose, act, etc) by hastening my physical demise consciously a little.  It seemed I had found starvation point, the caloric intake at which I was comfortable enough, just, but still not noticeably losing weight.

But weight is a funny thing, especially when it's 50kg hung on a once-6ft frame.  I say "once-6ft" because I am somewhat bent and hunched now; even the discs of my spine are compressed tightly by this maddening disease.  Weighing in today, full after a whole bunch of water, a feed, and with swollen ankles intactly swollen, I am a couple of kilos down.  That and the weakness, and I am brought back down immediately to my inevitability.  This illness is taking my life, or put another, less combative way, I have no choices really anyway.  Still, it was nice to have a few days there where I could sit and feel more empowered to choose my moment, as it were.  But now ... no such luxury of illusion.  My stomach and GI tract generally have already adapted to the new volumes and experience tells me that there can be no reversal.  This won't stretch out.  I can't feed any more than I do now.  That is to say, already it transpires that I cannot feed enough.

That's fine.  I still plan on choosing a moment to stop.  Choosing is totally the wrong word, actually.  What I mean is identifying, yes, identifying the moment.  Being There for it.  Making it something concrete, acknowledging it as a passing.  As a Moment.  Remembering now (and thank you O Big Everything for reminding me so clearly again) that I have no say in its inevitability, of course.

I said a goodbye today.  It was my first "I'm never going to see you again" moment.  (I shall insert the lack of inevitability disclaimer here just for form's sake however; you never know).  It was painful, but also exquisitely beautiful.  Two of the most wonderful, loving friends anyone could have hoped for in life, whom I have known for something like twenty-five years, and shared a great deal of time and heart with.  What I did not expect was that in the tears after they had gone, I would find wracking sobs turn to laughter and utter joyousness.  I was crying out great sobs of complete gratitude and happiness that I had met them, loved them, known them, and been known by them.  And the letting go became easier.  The memories aligned such that even the uglier ones, the things we all might once have regretted, said, done, not said, not done, all those things, they ... they just became part of the joyous whole.

It was fabulously grievous, it hurt like anything.  But it also filled me with love and happiness, and when it all calmed down enough, I felt a little bit lighter.  A little bit more cleansed.

Thank you both; you know who you are.

And thank you again, dear reader, for bearing witness once more.

I don't know that I'm going to have much left to say from now on.  Maybe. Maybe not.  Time, after all, waits for no man.  Wherever you are as you read this, whatever else is going on, please just take a single deep breath in and hold it for a moment, and as you let it out, just feel a bit loved.  And remember you can do that anytime.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Event Horizon. And It's Beige.

3 cups of rolled oats, soaked overnight.
50 grams or so of almonds or sunflower seeds, soaked with the oats.
3 kiwifruit.
About 60ml of olive oil.
Blended with the soaking water and a little sea salt, water added up to 2 litres.

This along with a bit less than two cups of kefir per day lasts me four days.  About 450 calories per day. I have discovered my starvation point, and this is it.  Any less than this and I noticeably suffer, get weak and incapable, etc.  This is survival rations now; the brutal calculus of my survival.

And it's a totally love/hate thing.

It's taken me a while to settle here in what I now think of as my cell, in the sense of a monk's cell, my exit room.    Part of it is that my nature was not letting me properly rest until I had settled something about the question of weaning off from food.  Basically, I had to find this exact point.  It is my bear, you know, like with the old Inuit woman in the story.  It's the Thing.  The line, switch, button, beyond which every increment is anti-body. Destructive. It is the event horizon. The other thing in the room here with me.   You could just say it is death, even.

Now it and I can sit together properly, and look at each other. I feel now a sense of arrival, and indeed even a sense of being welcomed warmly.  It is one of the main reasons I had to leave home, in the sense of my house, to do this.

There was such horrendous grief and sadness and terror when it came, when it happened, when I first properly saw it.  But I had help, and comfort, and Meeta helped me through it.  Little doubt there is more like that to come, but also now I see so much more than that.

I sit there, hands slightly trembling, concentrating on the task of pouring the thinner-than-crepe-batter beigeness into my syringe, utterly adoring, feasting, genuinely worshipping this scant concoction of life energies, of sustenance.  It is my nectar, the one remaining thread by which I stay alive here, and how could I not love that?

Food, in the final analysis, is life.  Everything is either eating or being eaten. Food or feaster.

And it stands in the road of where I'm headed, by the power of my attachment.  There is the rub.

But like I mentioned, the terrors and the lamentations this time passed, and in the wake came cleansing, and more truth.  It is a brutal calculus now, because it has come down to a single-line equation.  The one that asks the question how long will I hang on?  It's an easy one to overthink, the drawing of lines about where my own 'will' starts and ends and where I intersect with inevitables and circumstances so it is such a massive relief to find this space.  I can answer this question now, I know it. It's a question asked of a part of my being that is inexpressible in words.  For it is about complete surrender; surrender of words as well, you see.

That's it now.

Me, comfortable and relaxed in my room here. I feel secure now.  I can see clearly my immense attachment. My sheer animal instinct to hang on. And the burden I have accumulated of life's suffering, as if to balance that somehow.  I have given myself freedom, is what I'm trying to say, I finally realise.  I am allowing myself to simply be here with my attachment, to sit and look at how much it is my being wants to hang on to life.  To meditate on that liquidy beige that is the one last thing.  There is no pressure, I am fine and supported to be here because for the first time I totally trust that the timing is actually all completely perfect.  It is still hard to do at times.  It does still hurt and I am sometimes afraid. But I feel safe with that.

Me here, in my cell.  With the door to the world outside.  There are birds.  Loving the beige going in.  And just looking at that.

Until I find that moment of final surrender and step irrevocably into the event horizon.  Until then, it seems that comfort will mainly be my companion, for which I most immensely, humbly, grateful.

I hope your day is a good one too.