Pico de Orizaba

Pico de Orizaba
Taken from Huatusco, Veracruz, the closest town to Margarita's family's ranch.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Dust to Dust, Ashes to Ashes? Death as Tragedy and Sentimentalism

Let's start backwards... and maybe we'll find that we've actually righted ourselves?

Anya criticized me as being too sentimental... She also claimed that the Russian culture was overly sentimental.  Regarding my sentimentalism when we were "dating", she had a point.  I'm certain her rejection of my sentimentalism was related with her own personal struggle against suffering certain fears of loss or concerns of not fulfilling her yearnings...  The critic of sentimentalism would be considered "cold-hearted" and frigid; a mechanism for protecting oneself from "unbearable" pain.  

Yes, I have tendencies towards sentimentalism... or I wouldn't continue bonded in some form with Anya... It's a bonding with a past... Past is loss.  We hold on to our memories in the attempt towards not losing that part of our lives and experience that was relegated to history.  At times we swan dive into our fading memories in an attempt towards recovering them before they vanish completely.


It seems tragic.  But, what you don't remember doesn't affect you now, does it?  So, why create a tragedy with loss?  Why panic?  

I'm sure Anya appreciates the aspects of my sentimentalism that keeps me holding on to her, that keeps her alive in my mind...  Sentimentalism.  

I believe that we "should" remember those people who were important in our lives.  And it doesn't matter if we also remember the reasons why we are no longer sharing time and space together.  I get tired of resentment (is that English? resentimiento is Spanish, rencor; Spanish)...  Sometimes I fantasize about seeing her again.  And sometimes I realize that most of our experience is relegated to a permanent past.  And you may ask, "but why would you think about seeing Anya again if you are married to Margarita?"  

You try and simplify things too much... in the attempt towards organizing and understanding life and human behavior etc.  

No, I wouldn't trade Margarita for Anya.  No.  It's probably connected with an ill aspect of my sentimentalism.  And, it's not about this anyway... Nor is this piece I'm writing in this moment.  I think it has more to do with the yearning of stepping back into a past life I call "The U.S. and New York City"... Fantasies of setting foot again in NYC come with a desire for seeing Anya 12+ years later and hopefully we would have resolved certain very childish differences that existed back then.  Yes, they are fantasies... probably connected with an aspect of my sentimentalism.  

Sentimentalism connected with loss... loss of a potential... something unfulfilled... something left unrepaired... a conversation not terminated...

With "Alzheimers" we find salvation... from sentimentalism.  We forget even ourselves.  And with that forgetting we cease finding ourselves accountable.  

Or one day one of us dies... which is what brings us to the end of the erasing of the equation...  

Without sentimentalism, there is no yearning... without yearning, there is no loss.  Or is it that we construct so many concepts and styles of relating within our minds that we don't truly understand what we truly need or what is truly occuring in our lives and relationships.  

And everyone is correct or in "their right"...  And you "agree to disagree", which doesn't truly resolve the issue, since someone isn't near understanding the experience or perspective or reaction or the need of the other person.  

I've been reading a little into recent Russian and Soviet history these months (a break from my investigation into health; the investigation into health is a nice retreat from things sentimental and personal.  Science saves us from the personal... and helps create the illusion of things being understandable and organizable, logical... controllable...) Solzhenitzen... and now Pasternak... Why would the Russians be sentimental if not due to so much oppression and suffering caused by tyranic socio-political systems, geography and climate...?  The greater the need for not suffering, the greater the sentimental reactiveness?  I believe Anya would have said that the Russians sought suffering for maintaining their sentimentalism...  Afterall, why did they elect upon living in such limited light and agricultural opportunities?  

But can you truly acuse them of pursuing suffering?

"Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust"...


Tell me, when is death a trajedy...?  Can you distinguish between death as just what happens to all of us and when it truly is a trajedy?

Is it a trajedy when a recently born baby dies in their first days of life?  How about when a 16-year-old girl dies of a brain tumor?  Or when a 34-year-old budding star doctor and father of 3 younguns dies of cancer..?  Or when an incredibly healthy, physically, culturally and socially active doctor revered by so many is killed by a drunken driver, although he more than fullfilled his potentials as a person and surpassed the apex of his life and accomplishments...  

When is death a trajedy?

And for whom?  The deceased?  or those left behind?

I must admit that I was taken aback reading the second letter from my mother; the one where she is reading about who was her sister...  I guess she sent me what she read at my aunt's funeral.  It wasn't a letter telling me that my aunt died.  

And then I realized that I hadn't read clearly the first letter...

Yesterday we finished the fair of Guadalajara; 32 days of a fair that didn't work for most people.  It seemed that people entered just to purchase coffee from us.  We've never sold more coffee in our lives; somewhere around 22,000 cups of coffee prepared and sold by a crew of 5 people.  And for 32 days we slept 4 hours per night and attended our clients from 10am until 12am or 2am, depending upon the night.

... the first letter explaining that my aunt's lung cancer (treated with chemotherapy) had spread to her small intestine and deemed in-operable...  

Reading the letter the second time I was amazed how much I hadn't actually absorbed reading it the first time around... and how that could have been possible... how I hadn't captured the information that my Aunt was admitted into the hospital for the last week of her life.  How did I miss that?

But, isn't that what happens with us until it's just too late? That we miss the most important aspects of the messages being transmitted to us?

Is that a trajedy or just a fact of life?  Should I forgive you for not capturing the most important aspects of the messages I've been transmitting to you over a lifetime?

When my father died at the age of 34 was it a trajedy?  And for whom?  Truthfully, it wasn't a trajedy for him; he had reached his end.  Was it only a trajedy for my mother left behind to raise 3 young children alone?

A little under a year ago I was informed of my aunt's lung cancer, which wasn't a surprise, especially since she had been a heavy smoker for many decades of her life and since she was approaching her 75th year.  So, it doesn't come as a surprise that she came to the end of her life; a long life at that.  75 years.  And, as my mother wrote for the funeral, the last couple of decades she was accompanied by the "love of her life" Ed.  Ed who my aunt was certain would be the first one to leave and leave her unprotected since she was certain that he would leave everything to his children and she would have to work until she worked herself to death or would find herself in the street...  But none of that happened.  

No, my aunt's death wasn't a trajedy.  In fact, it seems to me that her life ended as a success story.  


If we go to the extremes of anti-sentimentalism, we can claim that even my mother's, my sisters' and my experience losing my father so early and abruptly wasn't a trajedy in that it was one of an infinite number of possible life experiences.... that death isn't a trajedy... nor is it an injustice.  

Death is a certainty.  

What isn't certain is how your life will be after the moment of birth.  And, depending upon our perspectives and socio-political leanings, we can encounter so many possible trajedies and injustices.

My family history is full of trajedies and injustices dating back probably hundreds (if not thousands) of years, spanning so many families.  And it is probable that death has liberated many of us from "unacceptable" suffering...  And it is also possible that most of us find ourselves immersed in periods of time when our personal concerns (and risks) and exhaustion and suffering and over-importance of relieving ourselves of our own personal and shared negative experiences (along with obsessions of obtaining success and better face value) cause an exhaustion and a distraction that makes it virtually impossible to capture the message being transmitted by the other person.  

Anya accused me of being overly-sentimental.  But, maybe she was so immersed in her desire to avoid loss and pain that she couldn't understand why I was so concerned...  

And, yes, sentimentalism has a base in worry or concern... the fear of loss or the seeming incapacity of accepting loss and the healthy letting go of the person, experience or relationship...  

As you know, my father left us when I was 4.5 years old.  And my mother pushed me away.  And I found myself ostracized by the females of the house within which I lived.  I grew up without a male role model.  And, later on, due to the subsequently related development problems I experienced in the aftermath of the loss of my father (and mother), I was ostracized by my peers and by my extended family... 

And my ultimate response was to leave for Mexico... where I started over... physically disconnected from EVERYONE of my past.

My mother sent me those 2 letters about my aunt the past week.  I appreciate the letters; the being informed...  But, there is absolutely no reason for continuing a dysfunctional relationship that seems unresolvable; and I haven't been in contact with her since the Spring.  And it's better that way.  

My mother is the only one who suffered loss and trajedy.  She was a victim and not a perpetrator...  Today she is "the ham in the sandwich without bread on both sides"... as if she didn't have a husband, two daughters and 4 grandchildren (two grandchildren and one daughter living a block away from her)...  

There were no losses, trajedies or injustices in my life.  I wasn't the raw chicken left in the pot of cold water lacking stove fire below the pot that was my home after my father died.  (Just in case you didn't capture the connection between the two metaphors; my mother considers herself the ham in the sandwich and that her deceased siblings represent the missing slices of bread.  Hence, my father and mother represent the stove fire that should be below the pot that represents my home or homelife.  The raw chicken is ME and the uncooked chicken soup is my life).  

Death not only represents loss, it marks the end of everything related to the deceased.  And, everytime a member of my "family" dies, I am relieved of their lack of understanding (lack of desire for understanding) of what happened in my life.  A strange hope (connected with a strange sentimentalism) dies with their death and I am relieved of that stress and those related concerns.  

Each time one of my relatives who accused me of being to blame for the consequences of my father's death dies I am relieved of their perspective and the hope that they will sincerely change how they related towards me.  

If our bodies are cremated after death, the remains we find are undistinguishable from the cremated remains of millions of other deceased humans and animals...  When we open the tombs of millions of deceased years after their defunction, we find the same undistinguishable remains decomposing to dust... If we bury our deceased directly in the ground without caskets and we search for them hundreds of years later, we will find them undistinguishable from the dirt that surrounded their bodies the moment they were buried.  

When the minds of my relatives cease to exist, so too their misinterpretations of my experience ceases to exist and so too the conflict between the two of us ceases to exist.  And I can find peace.  

I don't expect you to understand this.  As you haven't understood anything else that I've written over the years, making my writings, concerns and expectations obsolete.  

There is a point in our lives when we must put things into perspective and understand the universality of things.  

I'm not a writer or an artist.  I've written and I've painted and drawn. I've danced and maybe you have me on videotape and maybe you appreciated how I danced then.  But, I'm not a dancer.  I am Ross with all that I've lived and experienced; much of that life was filled with sufferings you may call trajedies and injustices.  Some of those sufferings are directly or indirectly related to you, although for some reason or another you don't take responsibility for your part.  And that is part of the "universality of things" that at one point in our lives we must accept and not obsess upon as injustices but difficult experiences that helped form who we are... and they are not trajedies.  They are just personal experiences.  And hopefully within those almost infinite personal experiences of a lifetime, we experience shared love, passion, success, enjoyment, profundity... and then we die...

Death... nothing about which we should feel sentimental... and certainly not a trajedy.

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