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Is Death Scary?

 

How to stop being afraid of death and be ready to meet it (her:)

My essay (Writing Work Shop, Berkeley City College)

Human life consists of many different events and periods: birth, childhood, first day at school, teen years, university studying, wedding, kids’ births, parenthood, old age… We used to be glad when someone is born and upset when someone dies. It’s logical: the birth is positive news, and death is the opposite. It makes sense why we congratulate each other with the dates of birth. Every year of our life we celebrate the fact that we have become older and we are still alive. We do it until the very end. The question is: why are we always ready for joy and never ready for grief? Let’s try to change this point of view, face our fears and take all our happenings as they are. Death is the last moment in our life and we have to accept it as something inevitable, not necessarily the worst, but something we can’t avoid. It would be better for us to do it without being depressed and experiencing feelings of sadness about it. We can accept death and take it as a link in the chain of events in our life.

People in some regions in the world believe that death is a transferring into another world, from some point of view, better than this one. They make cheerful funerals and they look like small celebrations.  Instead of wearing black, people dress up in white, singing and smiling to each other. There is a famous Mexican holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, in particular the Central and South regions, and by people of Mexican ancestry living in other places, especially the United States. It is called The Day of the Dead. Friends and family members come to the cemeteries, dressed beautifully. They eat, laugh, sing and pray for people who passed away. It is their way to support their spiritual journey. Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO approved Day of the Dead in the Representative List in 2008.  People in Peru have their own attitude to the funeral. Nobody is crying. There is a real celebration on the six-months anniversary of the person’s death, the one-year anniversary and each year thereafter. It reminds us of our tradition of the birthday celebration, doesn’t it? It’s like a date of death is a new date of birth, but in another world, where the dead person probably feels happier than before. Here, in America, there is one weird, from my point of view, holiday, which is the evidence that people here are not scared of death. At least, how death looks like. It’s Halloween. Two months before this holiday the stores are decorated by different spooky things: witches, skeletons, dead bodies and etc. Kids used to see it since their birth, they used to buy scary masks, decorate their houses before Halloween, put on the costumes and go “trick-or-treat”. All of these are the attributes of death. Objectively, it doesn’t look even half as beautiful as Mexican costumes and the makeup for the Day of the Dead celebration. A fearless attitude to these death attributes says that they don’t look scary for people here also. All these traditions teach people to accept death as something positive.

In other countries, when the person dies, his/her relatives and friends wear black, cry and show their grief to the public. It is not acceptable to smile or laugh at the funeral. If you are a widow, you have to look sad. In some cultures, people are hired to be mourners at the funeral. This tradition came from Ancient Egypt and Greece.  Many cultures expect mourners to curtail certain activities, usually those considered frivolous or that are accompanied by expressions of joy. I see this tradition as very strange and I think the funeral can be arranged different. For example, one character from the movie Love is All Around who became a widower, made a special funeral for his loved wife. Before her death she asked him about it. There was lively music and lively pictures of their life together, people didn’t look sad, they were smiling together with the widower. It was light hearted sadness. I think it shows that people can overcome stereotypes, against all odds. Everything depends on them and their close people support. I believe it is possible not only in the movies, but also in our life.  Personally, I am very worried when I imagine my grandma is not alive.  I have been thinking about it last 20 years, and – thanks, God! — she is OK and she’s going to celebrate her 99th birthday on the 2d of January, 2017. Maybe I chose this topic because of her. I understand her last moment is inevitable and I know I have to change my attitude and stop crying every time when I just imagine it. I have to convince myself I am not a mourner and she will always be with me, no matter what, in my heart, because the person is alive until someone remembers him/her. It is not right — to be depressed for a long time or more and wearing black clothes for a certain time because our society requires it.

The problem is that death can come any day and any time, for example, in an accident. Russian writer Michail Bulgakov in his famous novel Master and Margarita said, «Yes, man is mortal, but that would be only half the trouble. The worst of it is that he’s sometimes unexpectedly mortal — there’s the trick! And generally he’s unable to say what he’s going to do this same evening”. It is always unexpected when you suddenly realize that something happened with people, young and full of plans. Last year in June, six students about 20 years old fell together with the balcony in downtown Berkeley. When they went to the party, they couldn’t imagine, that it will be the last party of their life. It’s not easy to find something positive in what happened. More than a year after the tragedy, their pictures are still under the balcony where they spent the last seconds of their lives. What does this story teach us? I think to appreciate any moment of life. As one Russian poet Alexander Kochetkov said, “…And every time say “goodbye” like you leave forever, when you leave just for a moment”. This accident teaches us to perceive any moment with people we love as a treasure, because nobody knows what will happen tomorrow. The fact that death can come suddenly, has to help us to realize how important our relations are with people we love. It has to show us that we don’t have to be offended for a long time. It forces us not to delay with apology if we said something rude, because any time it can be too late.

As psychologists say, if you cannot change the situation, change your attitude to it. Can we avoid death in general? No. Do we want to worry a lot about it? I don’t think so. Can we help ourselves to accept it as a fact? Yes. I would even say: we can think about how to arrange our own funeral. There is one interesting book written by Jessica Mitford, The American Way of Death, where she gleefully reported on the enterprising ways undertakers play on fear and guilt to insure that the cost of a funeral is one of the most expensive purchases the average American will make after a house and an automobile. It is amazing how the author could express such a sad topic with a great sense of humor. It doesn’t matter that this book is about death. After you start reading it your mood becomes quite positive. A few weeks ago I witnessed an event where old people came to talk about cremation. The well-known “Neptune society” organized a meeting in a Berkeley restaurant to let people know about the company’s service and prices. Of course, some people came to have free meals, but most of them were thinking about their own funeral seriously. They thought about their kids’ expenses and wanted to take care of this event now, when they are alive. The main idea was — people don’t have to be afraid to talk about future death and take care about it in advance. Their kids, grandkids and close people have to know what to do when death happens.  One of the slogans of “Neptune society” is, “Parents need to be parents one last time”. They convince people that “it’s selfish not to take care if these end-of-life issues and selfish not to communicate with your kids about them. More importantly, it’s a final statement you make as a parent, you should make this decision and not leave it to your kids or loved once. Done openly, it will insure the greatest legacy of all: family members who remain friends after you’re gone”. These are the statements which have an impact on the minds of people who try to prepare for the funeral. The average cost of it in America now is $7000-18000. The “Neptune society” suggests to save the money and spend less than $3000. Old people who don’t want to make trouble for their kids after their death sign the agreement. Their next step is to let everyone know about it, which is not easy, because it is kind of weird — to talk about your own death with your family members, when you are not ready to say “farewell” to them. People try to do their best, because they know, everyone understands that death is inevitable and they have to accept it as a fact.

People make their mood by themselves. We see the world as we want to see it. If we are ready to see sad things — we notice them. If we want to see positive side of life, we just do not see anything that can ruin our perception of life. The most positive thing is that we are alive. Let’s be concerned about what can happen any moment and stop thinking of bad things. What if we just try to enjoy life and see positive sides of it instead having fears? Let’s try to be happy every day when we see people we love. Let’s notice the blue sky above our heads and chirping of birds around us instead looking at the computers and cell-phones all the time. Let’s try to feel death not as the end of life but part of it and believe we can meet each other later, in the next life. I think it’s easier to live if you believe in it. I really like What Dreams May Come with Robin Williams. This is a tragic movie, because it tells a story of how death completely ruined the happiness of one family. At the same time, this movie gives us hope with the belief that all people who love each other can meet later, after their lives, in a new colorful world. Furthermore, some of them will have one more chance to meet in our reality again.

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Сашин первый Хеллоуин

Честно признаюсь, сначала было жутковато. Вокруг происходило что-то странное: мама наряжала кого-то в простыню, что-то рисовала прямо на белом полотне, пришли какие-то люди, взлохмаченный мальчик в лохмотьях, девочка со светящимися рогами… Мама взлохматила мальчика еще сильнее, потом мне вручили пластиковую тыкву и сказали, что надо выходить.
Что? Куда? Никуда я не хочу-у-у-у-у! А-А-А-А-А-А! Куда вы меня тащите-е-е-е-е???

А это кто такие? А ведь приличные, наверное, люди. Соседи маминых друзей. Зачем-то нарядились врачами. Ведут себя странно.

Не очень я люблю врачей, они болючие прививки ставят. А эти почему-то вместо прививок конфеты раздавали. Свернуть )

Ну ладно, поору еще немножко и, пожалуй, возьму парочку…

Мам, давай со мной? Для подстраховки. Вдруг подойду поближе, а у них в кармане шприц с вакциной?..

Уфф… Пронесло вроде. Ок, пошли давай быстрей отсюда, пока не укололи.

Ну, с почином! Пустоватое пока ведерко. Что, еще куда-то пойдем?..
Пошумлю еще немножко, для порядка. О, прибежал какой-то дружелюбный конфетоугощательный темнокожий тип на мой крик, аж через улицу. Сладостей в тыкве прибавилось. Гуд.

Вообще любопытно: можно почти в любой дом постучать, и тебе конфет дадут. Странно, что в дом не приглашают. Попыталась пройти пару раз — удивляются. Хотят просто конфетами откупиться. А чаю не нальете, что ли??? Безобразие! А-А-А-А! Я ж в гости пришла! Нет разве?

Ну, в общем, понятно все с вами. Так принято: постучал, конфеты забрал, ушел. В одном доме даже маме и ее подруге повезло: им пива предложили. Ну какой же дурак от пива будет отказываться. Только тот, которому еще нет 21-го года. Как мне. Мне еще и трех нет, до первого пива еще ждать и ждать.


А это девочка Нина. Ей уже через 9 лет можно будет, но она о пиве даже не думает. Она еще конфетами интересуется. Собирает так же радостно, словно и ей немногим больше, чем мне. Когда подходим к двери, Нина произносит «трикотрит» (trick or treat, угости, или заколдую). Это слово такое волшебное, чтобы тебе конфеты дали. Я так и не смогла его сказать. Зато научилась говорить «байгайс» (bye, guys! — пока, ребята!).

Все этим вечером были в костюмах: не только дети, но даже взрослые. Если вы заметили, мама моя — енот. С полосатым хвостом. А я — Папин маленький монстр, из американского фильма «Отряд самоубийц». Я больше про Ивана Васильевича люблю смотреть, Куми-куми и свинку Пепу.

Костюм мне мама сшила. И Нине тоже. Мама у меня на все руки: и стричь умеет, и красить. К ней все время люди приезжают, которым свой внешний вид чем-то не нравится. Приедут, и перед зеркалом садятся. И тогда я должна вести себя тихо. Или мама сама к кому-то едет, делать всех красивыми. Даже у меня хвостики сегодня цветные, если вы заметили:)
Еще моя мама умеет шить и вкусно готовить. И терпение у нее никогда не лопается, сколько бы я не шумела. Повезло мне, что и говорить.
А вот тете, в доме у которой мы все собирались в поход за конфетами, прививка бы не помешала, успокоительная:) У нее с терпением напряженка. Суетится постоянно, спешит куда-то, фотоаппараты роняет вдребезги… Сегодня ведьмой нарядилась. Ну что… бывает:)

Вот этого привидения я совсем не испугалась, потому что знаю, кто под ним. Славе всего 14 лет.

Ему костюм тоже моя мама смастерила. За 5 минут.

Чего их, привидений бояться, когда они свои. С ними даже можно за ручку ходить:)

Вот это вся наша толпа. Смешные, правда? Вот и мальчик тот лохматый с сестрой и родителями. Их семья за полтора года полАмерики объехали. У них свой дом на колесах. В нем я, кстати, была. Они гостеприимные:)

А вот мой папа — яйцом дьявола его нарядили, так тут яйцо всмятку называют. Оттого все и смеялись, когда папу видели.

Тут в костюме привидения уже совсем не тот, кто был вначале. Интрига!:)

Забавный праздник Хеллоуин, я в нем участвовала впервые. Мы-то в Америку приехали в ноябре прошлого года, когда он уже прошел. Да я, наверное, ничего бы и не запомнила, совсем еще маленькая была. А в этот раз, если и не запомню, то потом можно будет фотографии посмотреть, которые та тетя-ведьма в свой блог выложит. Я слышала, как она маме обещала. Честное ведьминское дала.

Мои папа и мама. Устали… Домой пора.

А они еще все про какое-то кафе говорят, мол, а не пойти ли нам в кафе, пива попить. Ох уж эти взрослые! Конфет им мало. Мне вот лично ничего больше не надо. Даже плакать не хочу больше. Просто буду сидеть в коляске и вспоминать, что сегодня видела. Мне больше всего в одном доме с фонариками понравилось. Наставили всяких нестрашных страшилок…

А какой там классный скелет кошки был! Так бы взяла бы и отняла.

Но — нельзя. Что они тогда на следующий год поставят?.. Хотя у них там этих скелетов!

Вернусь сюда в следующем году, когда мне уже три годика будет. Надеюсь, до тех пор уже все конфеты доем. Не доем — родители помогут. Улов мой мама в инстаграм выложила. Вот, полюбуйтесь!

Всем привет из Калифорнии!

Ваша Саша.

Stopping time. The story isn’t in the book

I am happy to tell you that now you can buy my flash fiction story collection СURIOUS THINGS on AMAZON!
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40 very short stories (no more than 500 words each) about inanimate objects which act like they’re alive!  And here is the bonus for you today — the Watch story. You won’t find it in the book because it’s brand new!

STOPPING TIME

The wristwatch didn’t like keeping up with time. It loved to snooze under the covers, dreaming sweet dreams. It lulled itself to sleep under its owner’s ear, with a quiet ‘tick-tock-tick-tock.’ The watch felt as if its hands moved more slowly during the night, and hoped that in the end, time would stop altogether, and that it would never again hear that same, shrill noise, butting into its dreams at the very best part. As the wristwatch slowed down, so did the time it kept. And it was also awakened by the alarm clock, which rang later and later every day. The watch thought it was extending its owner’s life this way, but it was only putting him at risk of getting fired.

The next morning, the wristwatch heard a severe voice.

“You’re late for the last time!” it said. “If it’s your watch again, then buy a new one – at your salary, you can afford it!”

The watch would’ve been glad to make up for lost time, but it was too late to change its pace. The thought of parting with its owner was upsetting on the one hand, but completely liberating on the other: it could work – or not, run fast – or slow, or just stand still and not go anywhere at all. The prospect of being its own boss was so relaxing, the watch slipped off its owner’s wrist and vanished in a snowbank.

The next spring, a patch of dandelions bloomed, exactly where the watch had plunged into the snow. The wind blew the white floaties off their fluffy little heads, bleached by time, and they scattered in different directions in search of new places.

Nestled in the roots of a dandelion, the watch looked on.

‘What a beautiful dream . . .’ it mused, utterly and timelessly happy.

***
Translated by Krystyna Steiger

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Other 40 stories (about bike, spoons, elevator, sock, ball, doll, bubble, sponges, table, hook and etc) are waiting for you on AMAZON!

If you have something to say after reading, please, don’t hesitate to write a review with praise or criticism. I’d like to know your honest opinion.
Thank you!

Sincerely yours,
Hope Silver

yaibook
http://www.hopesilver.ru

 

For moms — breakfast in bed!

Today, first time in my life I had breakfast in bed;)) Kids made it for me for Mother’s Day.

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Actually in Russia we celebrate it on last Sunday of November. 8th of March some people also call Mother’s Day. My Mexican colleagues congratulated me on Wednesday, they have it on 10th of May. But it doesn’t matter when — mothers have mother’s days every day, right?

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And if it starts with a glass of wine in the morning… (it was my idea)… it is really
Happy Mother’s Day!

http://hopesilver.ru

Nothing but light-2

Anastasia starts one more project «Nothing but light». If you didn’t read my post about it — here is the link — Nothing but light… and the bodies.

Now Anastasia’s going to photograph people all over the world, not only in the US.

Let’s support this project!  You can participate as a sponsor or/and as a model.
I’d like to do that!

Join the project!
For more details: https://www.patreon.com/nothingbutlight