The Big Sleep

For most of us, there is a nightly ritual that snatches day from our clutches in order to surrender into that shallow "death" called sleep. Populated with flashing signs of wild meanderings, we enter into a dream world of images and side shows that only the subconscious state can deconstruct. This constant dress rehearsal allows us to ease into an unknown place that comes with a stark warning: our waking hours are numbered...yikes!

In my early twenties, I was very interested in that heavenly place of no return and began to read books by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss American psychiatrist who became a modern day shaman on death and dying. Her pioneering work on the subject helped many understand what she called the five stages of grief and its powerful hold on the human psyche.  Through her efforts, most of us are comfortable with the near death experience, past lives, and ubiquitous of all, the journey through the tunnel of "light".

Fascinated as I was with her findings, I also sought out radical ideas against my Catholic upbringing.  In the 70s, psychoactive drugs were one way to access mystical domains, and the books of Carlos Castaneda opened the doors for me to "a separate reality". At the same time, Reincarnation was all the rage with its concept that a soul can begin again in a new body after death. I also embraced Existentialists like Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, who espoused a view that we can define our individual existence by choice and personal responsibility. But, it was the India philosopher, Jiddu Krishnamurti that made psychological revolution of mind and body seem more doable. Needless to say, as a student of Art and Philosophy, the inner search for Self was deep.

My youthful inquiries into New Age thinking over time grew into a healthy dose of quantum mechanics, Gnostic teachings and metaphysics, becoming a new blueprint to re-examine myreligious and social constructs on death.  What if the "many worlds" theory exists and we are just phasing out of one dimension and into another. Or perhaps an interchangeable "multiverse of parallel realities" could cast its spell and allow for particles to wave infinitely here, there, and everywhere.  Still, my mind wanted to capitalize on a popular notion that we are spiritual beings having a physical adventure.  What if this "event horizon" or death in our terms was not the final curtain at all, but the "rest before renewal" that is common among other creations in nature? The life cycle of deciduous trees and other cyclical patterns in nature begs the question: why the tree and not me? Why has science been successful in identifying these inherent truths of the natural world, and yet we're separated out as an altered state of existence. Why, when every thing in nature supports every thing else is our life form so disconnected from the stardust of which we're made?

Clearly, these issues are larger than death. There are many possibilities for the lack of integration between human life and everything else that surrounds its. One unmistakable factor is the most obvious; there's no hardcore evidence that science or religion can point to what would definitively identify who we are, why we are on this planet, and where we go when we depart. Thus, mythology and religious are stand-ins for the "unknowable". As an artist, I am familiar with the process of bringing something to life.  I am "source energy" for my ideas, and the god of my kingdom.  Ordinary life however, is another story because our very existence is predicated on an unseen, omnipotence greater than ourselves. So, what's a girl to do but play Peggy Lee's song "Is That All There Is"?

The power of this question has been hanging over us for centuries, producing only scientific conjecture, religious dogma and snake oil prophesies. Throughout, the increase in fear of the unknown has taken on many forms of self-destructive lifestyles, the rise in mental illnesses, massive poverty and wanton greed on a global scale. Heaven and Hell are not destinations for the faint of heart, especially in light of the Inquisitions, Superstition, Witchcraft, Devil worship and Secular Sophistry. Popular culture only reinforces the blight with its litany of violent movies, vacuous TV shows, recycled ignorance in books, and the vampires of social media. Through it all Popes, preachers and politicians wielding the ballot and the bullet hasn't lead to peace on earth. Inundated with world events, we are chained to stories against a backdrop of terrorism, politics, and human failing, convincing some of us that our lives are dead on arrival.

This is especially true when we lose a loved one. The broken thread of intimacy and the lingering doubts as to how to proceed without them is real. In recent years, many of our fellow students of the great work have died. At these times, who doesn't yearn to be brought into the mythical "Secret chambers of the Celestial Wise Ones," to tell us what the hell is going on? Unfortunately, screaming and shouting at the night sky doesn't exactly reveal secrets of the universe. Yet, this didn't stop me from trying to receive transmissions from the other side. Luckily for me, the communications came in the form of a friend who was alive, but on the abyss of her next adventure.

Many years ago, a fellow student asked me to be with her during her "graduation" as she called it.  I agreed and witnessed her slow, but lucid journey to the other side. In her hospital room, the stage was set. The night's darkness was full blown and its ominous mystery lingered at the foot of her bed. She summons me to come over and pointed to unseen forms nearby. I gazed deeply into a blank space and saw nothing.  I knew this part because my mother had had a similar experience before her passing.  My friend shuttered and fell back onto her pillow, limp.  I held my breath. She was gone.  I made my peace and turned toward the window about to leave the bedside when she grabbed my hand. I jumped and was amazed. Not yet, her eyes told me.  She struggled to lift herself to me and speak "They're here". My entire body tightened. I stepped back, pondering. I knew she had died, but still, she was talking to me, awake.

Her breathing was shallow now and I waited for more.  A few minutes went by and then, nothing.  Letting go had happened again. I stroked her forehead and went to leave. She shocked me out of my skin when she grabbed my arm. Too many minutes had gone by and yet, she was here again, alive! She repeated this "resurrection" once more.  I was astonished how she could reanimate herself so easily. Each time on her return, I could tell she was given more information about where she was going.  I gave her a drink of water and she smiled. A nurse came in and suggested I get some rest. I left and returned within an hour.  When I came back to the hospital, there was no one home.

I have contemplated this event for a long time.  There was fearlessness about how my friend embraced the unknown place for which she was heading.  I will never forget the coming and going of her effort to gain as much insight before the final push.  That she was lucid much of her waking time led me to know there was an awareness that didn't frighten her. I was so grateful to have been present and brave enough not to run when every bone in my body wanted me to. The power of living every minute with grace and grit, fortitude and wonderment adds another dimension to my life for me. I stared down my own fear that evening and I am very happy that I did.

Now, I allow the mystery to unfold everyday.  At night, the big sleep is not about the rehearsal, but the "knowing".  Each time when that veil drops, I can roam in the fields of another reality. Dreamtime is the best time of the day for me because I can be taken to the many worlds of consciousness.  I ride the energy rails of possibilities and know why eternal life has no body nor boundaries.  I hold onto the notion that my soul mate is the body I wear in order to touch the wonders we have created, collectively.

The big sleep is a big deal, not because of what it takes away from us, but how it allows us rest before renewal. Just ask Billy Fingers, he's having a heck of a time from his neck of the woods!

" Earth is a stopover and what you achieve there is only a small part of the deal"

Happy New Year!

With great love and respect.

Rene (Esprit)  The Afterlife of Billy Fingers



0 #1 Rene Westbrook 2015-02-07 14:30
Hope this blog was helpful.

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