Saturday, November 7, 2015

Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

Lohbado enjoyed visiting Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery from time to time to relax and appreciate the beauty of the art. On one level, the cemetery is like a huge outdoor art gallery, where people could express their feelings about death or come to terms with sad and painful emotions. The cemetery has many fine sculptures, decorative tombs, a few mausoleums, miniature temples and endless  gravestones with etched lettering and ornamentation. Lohbado appreciated being in a quiet place with beautiful trees and greenery. Lohbado had reached an age when death is no longer a remote possibility. Nobody lives forever. A few of Lohbado's friends died and were dying. His parents died. As one gets old, it becomes difficult to repress, deny or ignore the facts of death.

Numerous funeral traditions, beliefs and attitudes towards death exist. Some believe in life after death, others in reincarnation. Some believe when you die, that's it. Lohbado grew up in a life-hating Christian tradition. He was son of a preacher man. Lohbado was taught that life is preparation for something better. He often wondered, why bother with the agony of the human condition? Why not take the express route to heaven? That's where the sadistic truth comes out. Life is punishment, a prison where one pays for the original sin. One must endure all the way. Everyone must complete a trajectory from birth to death. Suicide is punishable with horrific consequences in the afterlife. One would burn in the lake of eternal fire, infinite agony and torment that far exceeds any affliction one could experience as a human being. That's the way God wants it. So you better be good girls and boys, or you will go to hell. God loves you as long as you drop to your knees and worship him. If you don't, God hates you and you will be eternally damned.

After getting home from his bike ride, Lohbado was tired. He watched part of a Bunuel movie, The Criminal Life of Archibaldo de la Cruz. He fell asleep after a key scene in which the lead character, a spoiled wealthy man is in a place of rest, a kind of hospital where rich people go to relax. His nurse is a nun, with a funny hat. There's an erotic attraction going on. Finally, he takes her by the hand. A flicker of hesitation flows through the nun during the dialogue, as if her instinct told her to throw away the rosary and surrender to passion. Her super ego is too strong. She pulls away. Then he mocks her by asking if she would like to have the eternal bliss of dying in order to be in the good graces of God. She replies, yes, of course. He has a straight razor in his hand. She runs away when he offers to give her the joy of eternal bliss.

 Lohbado was glad to be living in Montreal, where such beliefs were no longer in the majority. He was grateful that a beautiful park, or cemetery had been set up where one could contemplate existence in peace and quiet. Lohbado believed that what counts is being alive and paying attention to details. Death is what happens as a process of time. One barely experiences what is going on right now.

Pause a moment. How much of right now enters your awareness? To navigate through the day, one moves through a circle of awareness, which filters out everything peripheral to one's immediate interest. It's not possible for a person to experience the infinity of what is going on, of what has gone on since beginning-less time and what will continue to go on for infinity. Most of what one is experiencing right now will be forgotten. Maybe nothing of this day will be remembered.

Here's an experiment: without referring to a diary, photos or any sort of documentation, try to remember what you were wearing, what you were thinking and what was going on November 7 ten years ago. Chances are you won't remember anything about that particular day. It's as though that day never even happened. How much of this particular moment will you remember? Is there any part of your body or mind that you would like immortalized? Which version of yourself would you like to exist for eternity, yourself at twenty-one, at thirty, at fifty, or as an old person? Actually, where is the version of yourself from last year? Where did it go?

According to the Chief Nomroh, eternal life is right now. The afterlife is tomorrow and the previous life was yesterday. Life could be an opportunity for unlimited exploration and creativity, or one could feel sad realizing one's self is transparent, constantly changing and will eventually be forgotten. Lohbado preferred viewing life as an ongoing ritual of creativity, filled with challenges. At times, life feels so painful, it's hard to keep going. But then time is like a river. Even the painful moments don't last. During depression, it's hard to imagine how anyone could be genuinely happy. But then a moment of happiness catches one by surprise... and so on and so on.

The human comedy, you could choose to be kind and reasonable, or you could be filled with self-pity, resentment, jealousy and bitterness. Of course, much of one's behaviour is biologically determined and conditioned. It's important to not be moralistic. One might feel proud and on top of the world. One might become high and mighty towards those undergoing difficult situations. But then when unpleasant surprises disrupt one's life, one might adopt a different tone. Nobody gets off easy. Life is often incredibly challenging. Do the best you can. Don't judge others. Be nice. Meanness only perpetuates misery.

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I have to check to remember what I'm wearing Nov 7, 2015!