Facing Up To Infinity
The full expression should be: facing up to infinity as it extends in all directions. And for me it implies letting go of all the culture bound baggage that insists otherwise, the ones that imply a walled laneway leading to a brick wall that cannot be surmounted unless one’s faith is supreme. I would have used the phrase confronting one’s immortality had I not already employed it in 2016 for, “Confronting Your Immortality: beyond belief and into eternity – living the ascension”.
This all came about as I read the essays of Sharon Butala in, This Strange Visible Air, where as an aging writer she deals with the many challenges of aging in and around the 80 mark, the deaths and divorces, the distant friends and family, the compact condo instead of the sprawling country home surrounded by prairie, and the many small ailments unfolding month by month. Her writing, as always, flows and ripples, rendering all her troubles with an ease that belies her pain.
At one point she speaks of the “dark cloud blotting my personal horizon who was Mr. Death himself, hanging around waiting for me to give in” and that as she “searched for that mental clarity and stillness out of which she writes books” that he had been without her noticing “tainting my every thought, desire, activity and ambition”. Thinking that she had been “mature in accepting her condition of old age”, she had in fact, been “letting him stain and spoil her last years”. She does not pretend that recognising her quandary somehow resolves it, but reasons that “reconciliation with mortality is the biggest struggle any old person has to deal with, except for those who deny and deny until the day they are dropped to their knees by a heart attack or cancer diagnosis, when, in a perfect rage they go to their graves still gripping the edge of their coffins with their dead fingernails.”
I include the dramatic language to illustrate how those without insight or knowledge dither in the face of their delusions. It’s the fate of those who refuse to explore beyond the tribal confines of sceptical materialism. A sad fate for sure and one that those of us on the inner journey would love to ameliorate if only we could get beyond their fear of the unknown and strangely mystical. We are the wingnuts, the wanderers in woo-woo, and I think for the most part we accept our status, if in fact we care at all.
We know, or we do when we think about it, that in the modern world, bereft of faith, except that mandated by science and its handmaidens in the media, it is considered a move of great maturity to confront your mortality. Popular culture portrays the indulgent, careless avoiders who mindlessly engage in the challenges at hand: education, religion, career, relationships, the nurturing of offspring, the hungry pursuit of pleasures, the devoted contribution to the smooth running of society. The sustained avoidance of inevitable mortality is seen as the prime mover in the various frantic activities that bring status and self-worth to the ego. Disease and calamities are employed to bring the careless to their knees and confront that spectre of death dancing about them.
The big brave purveyors of culture slap the silly avoiders with death and feel proud of their achievement. But those of us who explore what seem like the fringes of experience know that the real adventure is confronting one’s immortality – the many lives, planes and planets that become the furniture of infinity as we move to the music of multidimensionality. We suspect or even know that mortality, and the facing of it, is but the first step to securing a spot on the journey to everywhere. We’d love to tell the children if it did not spoil their fairytale, so we bide our time, even as we know time is but another fairytale.