Tag Archives: death

Empathy and pain

Empathy means exposure to both happy and painful emotions.

Life is lived in the moment.  In empathy we are exposed to a range of happy and painful emotion.

Live life in the moment. Empathy exposes us to a range of happy and painful emotion.

When you allow yourself the opportunity and time to enter into a relationship with a living thing, animal, plant and human, you expose yourself to the happy and painful of emotions.

I have empathy for a fox called Amber, and so I experience the happy emotions of seeing her, and the anxiety that exposure of my emotions brings to a wild creature at the mercy of the elements of nature.  For two weeks Amber vanished from her frequent daytime visits to my garden to enjoy the warm sun.  I am aware of a new fox running around at night, young, strong and fast.  I was anxious and hopeful that Amber remained in control of her territory against a new potential rival.

I was happy to see Amber emerge once more in the garden today.  Anxiety however emerged with the visit of Amber, she was coughing.  My research might suggest my beautiful fox has suffered infection by lung/heart worm, a parasite that infects a fox that has eaten infected snails, a species that has exploded in population due to the extensive rains Colchester has suffered.  The parasite sometimes is fatal for a fox, a reminder that nothing lasts, death will come to us all.

When a person exposes themselves to empathy for a living thing it brings with it the full range of emotions, happy and painful.  This is the risk of living, to feel this range of emotion.  Although I am aware that hardship and death is always present in the shadows, my philosophy is to enjoy the moment, celebrate the life of a beautiful living creature, and enjoy the living creature that now lives sleeping in the sun in front of me.

Graves in a wood

Nothing lasts but a legacy useful to the living.

Forgotten graves in a wood, the church is long gone.

Forgotten graves in a wood, the church is long gone.

I cycled out to the villages outside of Colchester, coming upon a strange situation by the side of the road.  A wood with graves, and no church.  I entered the wood and saw the many grave markers, many hidden in the undergrowth and woodland, forgotten and unloved.  From a creative point of view I enjoyed an opportunity to take metaphorical photographs on the subject of death and life, the supremacy of nature over humanity and on the subject of mortality.

The most recent of the graves dated 1904.  The church had suffered fire and demolition perhaps a century before, the graveyard abandoned to nature.  Sadly for all those buried in the graveyard there was nobody left in the locality that remembered or cared enough to tend their graves, the deceased abandoned and forgotten.

Death scares most people.  Most people fear being alone or forgotten.  Too many people live their lives out as a narcissistic Facebook profile.  Many people need fame, to live forever, to never be forgotten.  Most people, like those people in the graveyard, will when they die will vanish into obscurity, nobody will care, and no memory beyond some indifferent historical record will mark their passing.

I blinked, then time ate multiple years of my life.  I know when I blink again, I will probably be remembering this blog post thirty years from now as I attend someone’s funeral, reflecting on my mortality.  When I blink again, I will be dead, decomposing in some grave.

Sitting in my garden are ten acorn saplings in pots, my vision is that when I die a couple of great oak trees will live on to mark my anonymous legacy.  It is the harsh reality we all shall die, and most of us will be forgotten a few decades after we die.  The living rarely have time to remember or care about the deceased, since life demands their attention.  The legacy that each of us can leave that will get us remembered is something useful to the living like planted oak trees, because nobody cares about Facebook profiles and grave markers hidden in forgotten graveyards.

Life is temporary

Life is only in the moment, why waste life?

You are like a beautiful rose, but like all roses your bloom will fall away and you will die.

You are like a beautiful rose, but like all roses your bloom will fall away and you will die.

There is a vase of roses and lilies behind the laptop as I write this which are showing the signs of their last bloom.  I purchased the flowers for someone two weeks ago, and they blossomed over those two weeks to a magnificent perfuming bloom.  The flowers are dying now, a reminder that all things are temporary and impermanent.

In nature I see life and death happening all the time.  I see the broken egg-shell, discarded remains of a new life that has entered this world, the mother bird dumped the shell away from the nest to keep the nest clean.  I see the dead bird the cat Helix dumped on the kitchen floor.  I see in the garden under the lens of my camera the bloom of flowers of one species, which a time later dies away, replaced by another species of flower.  Nature reminds me of that harsh truth that I shall die, the hidden blessing to live each moment of life.

Two stories in the media expresses how fragile life is:  a baby which went to sleep in its fathers arms died suddenly in its sleep;  a ship sinks in South Korea, a student sends their last text message: “This might be the last chance to say I love you.”

Into the darkness

Impermanence, death, winter and nature.

"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly" Photo dedicated in memory of NIKOtheOrb, RIP.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”
Photo dedicated in memory of NIKOtheOrb, RIP.

The first day of November heralded for the Celts the start of the new year, for my ancient ancestors considered that the world began from the darkness.  This is now the twelfth day of winter, everything is dark and cold, the land of Britain is falling asleep.  The trees cast off their leaves, the hedgehog that visited my garden has vanished into hibernation.

I am reminded at this time of the tale of Lludd and Llevelys, a Celtic story of a king that I argue was ruler of Colchester because he was brother to Cassivellaunus who was said to have historically seized Colchester prompting Julius Caesar to invade Britain, and in legend to have seized the throne of Britain from his brother.  In this story at the start of winter an invisible thief charms everyone to sleep then steals the food and drink of the people, prompting Lludd to call in help from his wise brother Llevelys.  The story highlights the Celtic worldview that death and winter is merely a transformation, nothing dies, everything becomes invisible and asleep, before re-emerging awake and visible.  The invisible thief is that aspect of nature that is death and winter, the land is now asleep, and the abundant food I used to forage until a few weeks ago has vanished.  

This invisible thief has hurt me in recent weeks by making invisible… stealing… those things and people I cared about.  I was devastated when the “Castle Tree” was wiped out by storm St Jude on 28th October.  Now I learn that a blogger, a kindred spirit called Nikotheorb died on 21st October, the day they made three blog posts, and who I last exchanged comments with on 16th October on Liberated Way.  Niko’s blog posts and their comments on my blog was a source of influence and encouragement to my blogging.  I do not know how Niko died, but I grieve at this news, like parts of me are vanishing into nothingness.

Objectively I recognise in nature there is impermanence, everything is change and transformation.  Things and people appear and go out of existence every moment in nature.  I write this, Helix the cat has jumped upon the table to investigate an interesting smell, unusual for this cat… everything in motion… the cat is cleaning itself and now settling down to sleep on its interesting new “blanket”… I remember Helix as a little kitten… in years to come it will grow old and pass on…

Like my ancestors I recognise that death is not an ending, but a transformation from one state to another.  What is invisible and asleep will emerge again into visibility and wakefulness.  The warm days will return, the darkness and cold will flee, the land will awaken into abundant visibility at some point.  For everything and everyone death is a change in state, visible to invisible to visible again.

The last post of Niko was about her delight of a thunderstorm. My post on 22nd October after Niko’s passing is my own joy of nature. The cat Helix watches me as I post these last words, a reminder of the moment, to enjoy life whilst we can, each beautiful moment.  Helix goes to sleep.   The final post by Niko was a quote by Einstein:

“Out of clutter, find simplicity.  From discord, find harmony.  In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

Tears as I finish… a little cat sleeps next to my laptop in innocent bliss.

Nature of death

Death is a part of nature.

Death is an aspect of nature.

Death is an aspect of nature.

Hordes of the undead and devilish swamped the streets of Colchester last night, watched over by parents and a highly visible police presence to prevent some of the excesses of Halloween trick or treating.  For Britain Halloween remains the domain of children, dressing up, partying and visiting the appropriately decorated houses for candy and cake.

Halloween marked the start of winter, as I write this blog on the 1st November, it is the first day of winter in the UK.  The Celts called Halloween by the name of Samhain, which was their new year, a time to rest after the harvest, and to remember deceased ancestors.  It was Christianity which largely painted the false idea Halloween was devil worship.

As the children had their fun, dressing up and obtaining candy I considered how different their outlook is to the children of their Colchester Celtic ancestors.  Imagine a gathering of the modern family, a seat is left empty for grandma, the mother places grandmas skull at the empty seat and food and drink for her, then everyone eats and drinks to celebrate their new year… would a modern child be terrified of such a scene, of facing a reminder of death? A Celtic ancestor child would not.

In Colchester Celtic communities were animistic, living a worldview where past, present and future were continuous; the ancestors were a part of the community, and children continued the same traditions and beliefs as the ancestors.  Central to any community a Celtic shrine, where the bones of important ancestors were kept.

There were places in Colchester a deceased person would be exposed to the elements, away from the community, consumed by crows, to rot.  After a period of time, parts of the body would be recovered such as skull, and distributed amongst family and friends, often transferred to the family or community shrine.  The community cremated the rest of the body, and a feast held in its honour.

Death is a part of nature, and it is interesting to reflect on this aspect of nature on occasion as Halloween often does for me.

Death of the Iron Lady

The greatest UK politician since Winston Churchill died today.

Margaret Thatcher was a political warrior who got results. (Photo is a Colchester Statue).

Margaret Thatcher was a political warrior who got results. (Photo is a Colchester Statue.)

I write this after an announcement is made in the media, the death of Margaret Thatcher.  This lady lived in my town of Colchester back in 1949, one of several women from my town who make a great role model for what women can do if they put their minds to it.

It is likely most people have heard about Margaret Thatcher, most politicians are forgettable, this one won’t be.  The world media will be full of stories about Thatcher, she will have a funeral in the UK with military honours.  She as some say was the greatest politician since Winston Churchill. Nicknamed the Iron Lady, she destroyed the dictatorship ruling Argentina in the Falklands War, she saw the end of Communism, and contributed to a bloody political fight that ushered in a golden era of prosperity for Britain from a dark decade of discontent.

Thatcher was a person you loved or you hated, as a historian I loved her.  I loved her strength, the sort of iron that stewards who run nations these days lack.  Nations are built on people such as Thatcher, and I am saddened to see the lack of her quality metal anywhere on this globe

In Britain there will be respect and hatred for Thatcher.  Hubris blinds, in her actions many people suffered in her reign, and in hubris pride before the fall, she fell hard in the aftermath of unfair taxes and fighting over integration with Europe.  Hubris destroys, but death takes all.  However great you are, how good you are, how powerful or rich, death will cut you down in the same manner as it does to the lowest beggar.

The Iron Lady is now gone, her legacy lives on.  What will your legacy be?

The growing threat of Monsanto

In my opinion Monsanto is a serious threat to humanity and the environment.

This image is what I associate with Mosanto.

This image is what I associate with Monsanto.

One word that I keep hearing about with growing alarm is Monsanto.  People say that climate change, North Korea or al-Qaeda is a great threat to humanity, but few seem to associate a corporate agricultural giant as a threat.

Currently a small farmer in the USA is fighting Monsanto in the US courts involving patents on seeds, which has alarming consequences over food supply and genetic diversity.

I could rant and rave about Monsanto, but I shall keep this short and sweet. I recommend using search engines to explore what this Monsanto has been up to around the world, it may alarm you as it does me.