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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