White Line

White Line

It can be hard to know where the line between living and dying lies.  If a machine is keeping the heart beating and the lungs ventilating, but there is no awakening or recognition of that person to her surroundings, we start to wonder if she is dead. Eventually we let that person go and unplug the machine.  And there is usually a (literally) universal sigh of relief.  The tougher case is the person who is breathing on their own, but still not there.  We don’t have it in us to stop that breathing body, but we also don’t know what to do.  That person is between life and death.  Stuck.  We equate living with responding.  If you ignore me long enough, I guess I will assume you are dead…

Today on NPR I heard a story in which the last stage of death was described as occurring when your name was uttered for the last time.  Your memory of me defines the moment of my dying.  Maybe I shouldn’t ignore you.  But my body will be gone and your memory will start the immediate re-sculpting of who I am.  I will be contained in distorted fragments all around the world (or more likely the hood), rolling around in the imperfect memories of my loved ones, only living as long as you say my name.

Maui 2010, Nikon D700, natural light, Aperture 3

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7 Responses to White Line

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention White Line | Bend Light -- Topsy.com

  2. anita says:

    The final stage of death. That was an intriguing concept in the show, and the ah-ha it brought up for could be enormous, implemented. But first, that is a beautiful picture. I like the hills. A shy, hearty surprise, when lured in by the line. Something staid above something glitzy.

    The final stage of death is the last time your name is spoken, the last time you’ll be remembered. The souls waiting for this death hang out in a room, and it is said, “I guess that is the curse of this room—because we live in the heads of those who remember us, we lose control of our lives, and become what they want us to be.”

    Funny thing, I am doing that! not even dead times one or two, yet– living my life according to what I think other people may want/expect in their heads. Time to wake up! And yet, how? Going to take some real sitting, moving, ripping away, trying anew. Furthermore, is it realistic to expect myself not to CARE what other people think? No. I am a social creature. And yet, I would like to care less.

    Reminds me of the lines from the poem, “The Language of Life” by William Stafford. My favorite line is the second sentence–it’s been haunting, popping up at me, lately.

    “Some time when the river is ice ask me
    mistakes I have made. Ask me whether
    what I have done is my life. Others
    have come in their slow way into
    my thought, and some have tried to help
    or to hurt: ask me what difference
    their strongest love or hate has made.”

    • stephenarcher says:

      That is a really cool poem. Thank you.
      Right. The distortion of who we are starts right now in the heads of everyone around us.

  3. Kathleen says:

    I wonder, even in life, if I am known by anyone, including myself, as more than just distorted fragments.

  4. You have to get your work published!

  5. Interesting. In business we say “Your customer’s perception is your reality”.

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