Getting cozy with darkness / Más cómodos con la oscuridad

Obliterating anything and everything in the realm of darkness is a dangerous proposition and can easily backfire!

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View from the US Bank tower in downtown Los Angeles, looking West to the ocean & Santa Mónica Mountains, OUE Skyspace, Los Angeles (2016)

(versión en español abajo) Our moral minds have always pushed us, westerners, away from darkness. A certain sense of morality is inevitable and, indeed, beneficial for human survival and social order . But obliterating anything and everything in the realm of darkness is a dangerous proposition and can easily backfire. Demonizing, vilifying and rejecting: three verbs that hide our fear of darkness and our proverbial ignorance about death, all too frequent reactions of the “modern” man. Yet, moving in just the opposite direction and embracing (not necessarily approving) the very same things that we reject may actually bring much needed balance to our minds and souls. Pause and think about it: darkness might not be your cup of tea and neither is mine, but are we not giving it more power than it deserves? Oddly enough, by accepting darkness in incremental doses, we can silently create a more luminous world.  *

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Nuestra moralidad nos ha empujado (a nosotros, los occidentales) bien lejos de la oscuridad. Cierto sentido moral es inevitable en la vida humana y es, de hecho, beneficioso para la supervivencia y el orden social. Mas obliterar todo aquello que pertenezca aproximadamente en el reino de la oscuridad es una proposición peligrosa y con consecuencias. Demonizar, abominar y rechazar: tres verbos que no hacen más que esconder nuestro miedo a la oscuridad y nuestra ignorancia proverbial sobre la muerte, reacciones demasiado frecuentes del hombre “moderno”. Moviéndonos en exactamente la dirección opuesta y aceptándo (ojo, no necesariamente aprobando) las mismas cosas que hoy abominamos puede, de hecho, traer un equilibrio psicológico muy necesitado. Piensa sobre ello: a lo mejor rechazas la ouscuridad y yo tampoco la aupo, pero no le estamos dando una fuerza que en realidad no posee?  Extrañamente, al aceptar la oscuridad en dosis incrementales, nos situamos en mejor posición para crear un mundo más luminoso *

Tick-tock goes the clock

“The essence of a human being is resistant to the passage of time. Our inner lives are eternal, which is to say that our spirits remain as youthful and vigorous as when we were in full bloom.” Love in the time of cholera. Gabriel García Márquez.

Union Station, downtown Los Angeles, California (2015)

“Where did all time go???” a question -and a complaint-  that plagues us, as we grow older. We like to think of time as something we can control and hold in our hands, some palpable stuff. When we are young, life consists of countless possibilities. So many open doors, so much time in our hands! But this world of our youth shrinks and shrinks at each tick of the clock. With ever sharper clarity, we realize that those possibilities are nothing but illusions. One and only one exit awaits us. Old age teaches us that each moment needs to be experienced as if it were an eternity. I still get the goosebumps when I remember the wall clock in the family house of our childhood years: each second clearly marked by the moving pendulum and the top of the hour loudly announced with the strike of the bell. A bold reminder that yet one more hour has passed  *

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Taki watches in a store vitrine, Avalon, Catalina Island, California (2015)

An oneiric brush with death / Roce onírico con la muerte

Just the idea of impermanence is unbearable for many of us and thus we live as if impermanence do not exist. But can we go on and on ignoring death? Well, of course not. And here is a little story on that.

Santa Mónica Pier, End of Route 66, Los Angeles, California (2014)

(English version follows below) Para muchos la muerte es tema tabú. Y quien se atreva a hablar de la muerte se tilda con la etiqueta “mórbido”. La mera idea de impermanencia es insoportable para la gran mayoría de nosotros, con lo cual preferimos vivir como si la impermanencia no existiera. Pero mientras más ignoramos a la muerte, más nos recuerda ésta de su realidad inescapable. La otra noche, una voz susurraba gentilmente a mi oído que me atreviera a pasar la línea.  Era una línea imaginaria trazada sobre el piso de tierra. En el sueño, yo miraba la línea y me preguntaba indeciso si cruzar o no. La voz suave continuaba invitándome: “no hay dolor, no temas, cruza!”. En ese punto, desperté con la idea de que acababa de soñar con la muerte . Poco después, una confirmación: al abrir las redes sociales, la primera imágen que salta de la pantalla de la computadora es una fotografía de aquella magnífica película del director sueco Ingmar Bergman “El Séptimo Sello” (ver foto abajo). A la Señora Muerte le digo esto: yo sé que pronto voy a perder a la reina y eventualmente el encuentro de ajedrez. Pero antes de que eso ocurra, seguiré disfrutando de la partida! *

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An image from “The Seventh Seal” by Ingmar Bergman , with Max Von Sydow  (the knight) and Bengt Ekerot (playing the death). The cinematographer was Gunnar Fischer (1957)

For many, death is a taboo subject. Others reject talking about death because such conversation would be “morbid”. Just the idea of impermanence is unbearable for many of us and thus we live as if impermanence do not exist. But the more we ignore death, the more we are reminded of its inescapable reach. The other night, while I was sleeping, I heard a voice prompting me to “cross the line”. It was a line drawn in the sand. In my dream, I would look at the line and was unsure whether to cross it or not. The voice, smooth and enticing, would continue inviting me: “go ahead, no worries, it will be painless”.  At that point, I woke up and quickly rationalized that I had just dreamed about death. A few moments later, a confirmation of sorts came: as I opened the social networks, the first image that popped out of the screen was a photo from an scene of “The seventh seal”, that magnificent film by Ingmar Bergman (see photo above). I will tell this to Mr. Death: I know that I will loose my queen and I will eventually loose the chess match. But before that happens, I will enjoy playing the game! *