November: From the Days of the Dead to the Distractions of the Living

I decided to participate in NaBloPoMo because I’m already so incredibly overbooked, I figured what’s one more damn thing? I mean, if you want something done, give it to a busy man. Right?

Note: I am not a man.

October 31 to November 2 marks the Days of the Dead, a particularly redolent time for me. I’ve blogged about Gavin and I taking our honeymoon in Oaxaca for the festival, about the outdoor dance performance I hosted in 2007 as a memorial to him, and about a tribute I handed out for the event. I don’t want to repeat too much of those earlier posts, but the Mexican tradition as I learned it from Felipe Ehrenberg treats making art (a learning process) and remembering those lost as central to continuing life -- which is as good a description of grieving as I’ve yet found.

We connected with the Days of the Dead a dozen years ago because we felt we’d beaten death once, when Gavin had some heart problems. Little did we know -- I wouldn’t have expected the end to be so nasty, brutish and short or for it to lead me, eventually, to so much more clear and forceful direction in my life.

Each November at the small funky bookstore I used to run, we built a community offering, in a different medium with a different theme. It was chaos and love combined, and always colorful. We’d burn copal and myriad candles (remember when they were not required to be scented?), welcoming everyone, even the bums, to get paint on their hands, drink beer and eat candy. The 2007 event was more advanced but less Mexican than all the ones while Gavin was alive, since it included a hot chick in metallic leather thong bikini and little children whispering to their Moms, “I can see her BUTT!”

Americans need a tradition like this – a solemn and hilarious way to celebrate the lives of those who’ve died, a way to live with mortality every year, even in good years. Grievers and non-grievers together without fear or silence. God knows this country would benefit from celebrating non-religious festivals, more ways to share creative energy, noise, and food and drink. We’d be creating occasions to talk about loss, to take it as the serious and weighty business it is, to share memories and laugh our butts off, too. And what a great way to meet with and learn from our unassimilated Latino neighbors.

Maybe next year I can do one through our church? If I have time. If I’m not moving, balancing paying work, and participating in, uh oh…. NaBloPoMo.


* * * Comments * * *

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...