Overheard 9am, Tuesday morning: “We are all beautiful in the dark.”

Witnessed: Chinese couples learning ballroom dance opposite my makeup chair on the second floor, George Street, Sydney at dusk.

Spoken: (in response to my pointing out my scarlet red blouse being the sole colour amongst the models’ raggy black outfits) “That’s because you’re an individual and we are all sheep!!

Repeatedly: “Have you grown?” “How tall are you?” and sometimes even simply, streetside, people say “Tall!!” as if no one has ever noticed before. Why yes, shall I call you “short” perhaps?

Pointedly: “I joined Storm because they have Kate Moss. They’ll never go bust because she never stops working” ( a model regards her choice of agency. Recession talk? Rather hilarious, too)

Realized: ‘Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique and separate identity; but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our ‘biography’, our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… It is on their fragile and transient support that we rely for our security. So when they are all taken away, will we have any idea of who we really are?

Without our familiar props, we are faced with just ourselves, a person we do not know, an unnerving stranger with whom we have been living all the time but we never really wanted to meet. Isn’t that why we have tried to fill every moment of time with noise and activity, however boring or trivial, to ensure that we are never left in silence with this stranger on our own?

And doesn’t this point to something fundamentally tragic about our way of life? We live under an assumed identity, in a neurotic fairy tale world with no more reality than the Mock Turtle in Alice in Wonderland. Hypnotized by the thrill of building, we have raised the houses of our lives on sand. This world can seem marvelously  convincing until death collapses the illusion and evicts us from our hiding place. What will happen to us then if we have no clue of any deeper reality?

When we die we leave everything behind, especially this body we have cherished so much and relied upon so blindly and tried so hard to keep alive. But our minds are no more dependable than our bodies. Just look at your mind for a few minutes. You will see that it is like a flea, constantly hopping to and fro. You will see that thoughts arise without any reason, without any connection. Swept along by the chaos of every moment, we are the victims of the fickleness of our mind. If this is the only state of consciousness we are familiar with, then to rely on our minds at the moment of death is an absurd gamble.” (Sogyal Rinpoche, Impermanence in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, (Rider), 1992. pp. 16- 17)

Reflection: You know I chose to leave modeling last year because of the death of a close friend and its affect on my own life and loved ones. I spoke to Patty Huntington of Frockwriter recently about the reason I left modeling, and thus also the reason I came back – “Death makes you re-evaluate your true direction & purpose,” and now that I’ve gone deep inside myself after existing on a surface pond for so long, look what is beneath you right now – the gash is evidence of what has come to the surface, as well as the body it lays upon, the Paper Castle Press. Like koi from a pond, my castle rose to the surface when I fished for it deep.

Decided: I think perhaps I’ll move to Paris. Couture, red wine in copious amounts, beauty lived and breathed instead of coveted.  Thoughts my loves?

9 Comments, RSS

  1. Dan Ouellette April 26, 2009 @ 8:43 am

    Too many thoughts to comment on lightly!

    I would perhaps add that besides the fear derived from not knowing who we are… there is that fear of what we might BECOME… our potential frightens us deeply.

    Can I get along without hurting others? Impossible, of course… with every step we don’t ever know who we are possibly crushing. And with every choice comes the dread that we may veer off into vapidity, immorality, revenge, jealousy, etc.

    Are those living as part of a sheepish population, during times in which fascist dictators, religious zealots, political morons, slaughter millions of innocents on their behalf, complicit in those acts? “Could I be one of those sheep and not know it?” we fear…

    And then there is the fear that who we are is precisely as we appear to ourselves… and nothing more than that!

    Say it ain’t so!

    Am I really just this little (albeit perhaps very very tall!!) corporeal-electrical being?

  2. Dan Ouellette April 26, 2009 @ 8:46 am

    Also… Paris. Envy pours out of me…

    Although Mallorca is in my near future!

  3. J April 26, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    Move to Paris if you got lots of $$$ and you can find work!
    I’ve been here for 7 months and there isn’t much.

  4. Rand April 26, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

    he was a great man and had big influence on a lot of people, including myself. he was too good to go so soon but I can assure you, he’s all around us and with his baby girl. he continues to inspire people every minute, every day. even now, I get upset thinking about it. I am deeply sorry to you, your family, his family, especially his little girl who has to miss so much interaction with a good father, a rare thing. he was special. I say go to paris. you will find endless amounts of inspiration and beauty there. you should learn french too, if you haven’t already. I would go now if I could. paris is a dream manifested into something real. live out your dream.

  5. sophie April 26, 2009 @ 5:35 pm

    Grins spread widely across my face and stick for minutes! Thank you Dan, J and Rand – wow!! Yes, I can speak passable French and understand it with a B+. My mother has a house an hour south on the train from Paris, she just bought it – but it hasn’t been lived in by us yet, so we’re heading over this summer to bring it up to scratch. I just need really fast internet and my man by my side helping to fix the old Peugeot that rusts in the garage, a vegetable garden and fruit on the orchard trees, and I will be happy! I heard it wasn’t expensive to dwell in France – and I would not need to pay rent I suppose either, unless I wanted to be IN Paris… Humm. Thoughts thunk aloud.
    Meanwhile, I have some French spirit animating me and can’t stop watching French films, listening to old jazz, thinking in French and channeling Charlotte Gainsbourg. I watched a great film on Saturday night called ‘And They Lived Happily Ever After,’ with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Johnny Depp and Emmanuelle Beart among the cast. It was fantastic. (An amazing food fight scene with Charlotte, in particular….) I yearn for a life lived in beauty, not a culture asking you to buy a piece of it or sell your soul for it. However, I will always love New York. That is a given.

    Fear of what we might become is wasted fear. Whatever it is you think you might become – that is not it!! You won’t become that. Things unfold in weird ways. Save fear for errant spider bites and Air China plane tickets bought on the cheap…

    “Am I just this little (albeit perhaps very very tall!!) corporeal-electrical being?”

    Laughter, laughter, love.

  6. danny Roberts April 26, 2009 @ 9:33 pm

    wow brilliant post my friend! :)
    oh and yes you can move to Paris only if i can come too! hahah

  7. Scott April 26, 2009 @ 11:45 pm

    But will these ‘things’ that define us now ever really leave? It would be near impossible to rid yourself of it all.

    From the moment we are born it’s all there.

    And we all know the truth of nature vs. nurture (nurture wins for those wondering), so to be so constantly surrounded, so constantly active in our thinking and ‘doing’, from our very beginning, how can it ever leave? Would it not be wiser to use these instinctive reactions, our surroundings, and our possessions in a more thoughtful way? They can’t be removed completely so make them count.

    I find it unusual that people bring up these arguments surrounding death. It is clearly an UNKNOWN area, no one can be certain what exactly occurs and what exactly we are left with. So why, why, why put any effort into securing something that comes after an unknown circumstance? Wouldn’t that be potentially a false pretense? A stab in the dark, if you will.

    I am alive, I know that…I know what I can do while I’m alive, the present moment is all I really have. At any given moment, nothing else actually exists other than your presence.

    So I’m going to take this moment, these thoughts, these possessions and make them count.

    Because that is all we have for certain.

  8. sophie April 27, 2009 @ 7:05 am

    “Nothing else actually exists other than your presence.”

    Perfectly said. Perfect!

    Death is as unknown as pre-birth, and I think they are perhaps the same place – but also, I think the enter and exit points into and out of life are just as amazing as each other. Why is death so dark and gloomy? I want a long colourful celebration of my life when I lay on my death bed or in my death-field!! That’s hoping I can forsee it with enough time to encourage that kind of behaviour around my death. I just think there isn’t enough attention put on old folk and very little celebration of their contribution to society. I hope one day to start a foundation for Old Folks and pour some Paper Castle funds into making sure Wisdom is heralded and not shut away in nursing homes and behind hospital walls.

    Maybe I’m naive but that is my dream and a ‘charity’ that I can quite easily put my name and my stamp to … I wonder if there are any Old Folk Foundations? There seem to be a billion charities for children… Seems a little off-balance to my liking…. and if there aren’t? I will make one myself!

  9. Scott April 27, 2009 @ 11:37 pm

    Thank you Sophie!

    I take the same stance, on pre-birth being seen as a form of death. I’ve been baffled by this thought since I was very young, coupled with the dark and gloomy association you mentioned. Perhaps it’s all a religious doing (or brainwashing) the whole heaven and hell concept. It’s a shame really. I’m guessing you know a thing or two about this topic, having studied Philosophy of Religion (impressive!!)

    The thing that remains persistently confusing is that why do we develop such emotion, “soul” or “spirituality” during our physical existence? Is it merely propped up by the chemicals and science of our bodies so once that stops so does everything that came with it, or is there something greater involved? That’s the unknown. I’m not a believer in god, but I haven’t ruled out another existence. But I can never know for sure either way, like I’ve said, so any considerable time contemplating it seems rather frivolous.

    And here here to old folks! I mean what can be more rewarding, or beneficial than getting a few life lessons from those who have actually LIVED. The fine line, is that undoubtedly certain views, opinions or lessons become obsolete as the world progresses. So an effective learning collaboration between the youth and the elderly would be ideal; the best of both worlds. Your dream certainly is not naive, in fact it’s brilliant! A foundation that unlocks the fountain of knowledge!

    I’m in!

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