Thursday, March 3, 2011

On The Dimensions of Our Mortality

I just came upon a blogpost on Grief and Grieving by Bill Young - We are always deeply touched by death and it is ever present. Yet we live in a world where thought of this is as good as taboo. "In the midst of life, we are in death." I will never forget those words spoken to me as a child while walking on the beach with an adult friend, I. Mildred Johnson, librarian at the Free Library Of Philadelphia. She was an adult. A mentor. I was twelve years old. She introduced me to great works of literature, to Christopher Morley, Walt Whitman, Henry James yet that one statement, so startlingly delivered "out of the blue" at the edge of the ocean, at land's end, was her greatest gift to my mind. I have never forgotten the force with which it sunk in, instantly-never. She did not elaborate. She did not explain. She did not comment. I asked no question.
Thank you, Mildred.

Here is the comment I left on Bill's post:
Thank you for this very thoughtful post. Our mortality is a common thread that should by all rights unite us and bind us together in one humanity with each and every other mortal on the planet. Rather, we seem to ignore it and not see it as conveying a precious quality and quantity on each and every life. This in itself is a fact worthy of grief, and we are surrounded by it. It pervades our social interactions. A true REALization of our common mortality would give rise to compassion and generosity. Yet we are bound to social conventions that place death in the category of taboo.
On a lighter side - I had this LOL moment when news reached me via a tweet (how else?) that Jane Russell had died at age 89 my first thought was: "How young to die!" -it just popped into my brainbox, and I thought 89 young! How funny!
Years ago when I was corresponding with Anais Nin and she was facing her own rapidly vanishing time on the planet I wrote an essay called "The Two Faces Of Death" - she had her publisher use it as an Afterword to her book "Seduction Of The Minotaur" - Time to re-read that and to reflect on the subject you treat here. My mind since childhood has never strayed far from reflections on mortality. It is, finally, what quickens us into an awakening -or not.

& here is Bill Young's post "On Grief and Grieving" from "Okie Reads" >


  1. Wayne, much thanks for sharing my post and your thoughts with readers of your blog. Beyond being a good soul, you are a provocative, spiritual and thoughtful soul. I've linked back to your blog from the original Okie Reads post.

  2. I have always been amazed at how death and mourning are treated (like taboo) and something to be quickly dealt with, here in the US. I guess it's a cultural thing and I often wonder if it is viewed as a sign of ultimate 'failure' here in the west.