“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs
With my 40th merely 49 days away, my thoughts turn to what a blessing it is to have deadlines.
As writers, we have a love and hate relationship with having to finish our work by a certain time, but deadlines is what our work ultimately thrives on. (Oh hello, it’s Friday again. Yes, I will hit “publish” on this article within the hour as this commitment to a deadline enforced by none other than myself is what keeps me banging away at the keyboard.)
In this cloud of uncertainty known as life, there’s comfort in knowing that there will come a day when I will cease to exist as Eda. Deep down, this is why I turn up at my keyboard on Fridays to bang out some truths in an attempt to make sense of life.
I know, I know… I realise I might be coming across as insensitive here. You may judge that what I’m saying here is ill-timed, what with today being the day after R U OK Day (where we attempt to pull people out of suicidal thoughts by asking them if they’re OK – never mind that most of us aren’t aware of our own emotions and how to work with anything that’s remotely painful or a source of discomfort to ourselves), but let me assure you, ignoring our mortality and acting as if death doesn’t exist isn’t how one cures depression.
Whatever you try not to think about, is what ends up consuming you in the end. Ever tried to ignore an itch? How’d that work out for you? In my experience, it’s always best to acknowledge it, itch your itch and move on.
Maybe there’s something about having been born on November 2nd, which is Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead as celebrated in Mexico and some South American countries, that attracts me to memento mori (Latin for “remember you will die”), a form of art that exists to remind us of the fragility of our lives.
Skulls, bones, hourglasses, clocks, extinguished or guttering candles, withering flowers, rotting fruit, maggots, worms, gravestones and the Grim Reaper himself are the visuals used to convey the message.
Enter The Road Captains
How can you pass by buskers raising funds for their funerals and not contribute? The gravestone poster had me before I even tuned into the New Orleans style music coming out of Paul Bennet’s electro-violin and Ken Granneman’s guitar.
Though youthful in spirit, let’s make no bones about it – The Road Captains have grey hair (beard in Ken’s case).
I’m hoping the busking outing was a success and am for one looking forward to seeing them out and about in Lane Cove in many more occasions. Their poster made me realise something about “funerals” and “funds” – you can’t spell either one without “fun”.
Seriously though, one is never too old to have fun. Let that be an inspiration to those wondering why they should bother getting out of the house at all. Go out because you never know, you may catch The Road Captains performing.
Or better yet, go out because you have a song to sing, a poem to recite, or simply some time to share with your community.
It’s Never Too Late…
“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” – Mae West
Take it from Mae.
The only things you’ll regret are the things you wanted to do but never did. Grandma Moses didn’t start painting til she was 78. This didn’t stop her from becoming an acclaimed artist and Mademoiselle magazine’s “Young Woman of the Year” at the age of 88.
And Toni Morrison published her first novel at the age of 40. Reading about Toni Morrison hit my competitive nerve, what with my 40th around the corner and I’ve still got no manuscript to publish.
But, hey, it’s not about getting published or public accolades either. It’s about getting regular with your creative practice.
Starting a creative practice, showing up, like one shows up at their Yoga mat is about keeping faith that your regular practice will take you to a higher level of awareness which will fuel deeper connections, more art, increased sensitivity, heightened awareness, more impactful art in an ever-expanding upward spiral.
Then when it’s time to go, there are no regrets and you continue to create and spiral up high going home to join stardust (Ziggy Stardust).
*The photo is of Still Life with Attitude I – Bookstack by Mosman artist Steve Jannar
Over to you…
What is a creative endeavour you tried and enjoyed? Are you continuing your creative practice? Why or why not?