had discovered a site called Thursday photo challenge
. It looked fun, so I thought I would also participate. The topic today is NATURE
The weather is beautiful, Most of the snow fall has melted but there is a thin layer of frost over everything today. I'm really looking forward to spring and all the changes it holds for us.
Last night we went to a friend's birthday party. I met another American!
(This is the third American I've met in Germany over the past 3 years - They are few and far between. Perhaps I'd been searching in the wrong places.) He's an actor from NYC named Ricky. He's opening an Art Salon early next month and asked us to participate. The topic for the gallery is "Let it be
". He urged us to submit a piece of artwork. If we're still around.. (and the way things are looking with Eric's Green Card, we just might
) I'll definitely join. It was so nice to find someone from my home state. It was like coming home for a moment. I loved his creative energy and enthusiasm.
After the party we went to the Irish Pub
for karaoke night. At one point the singer on stage was performing Richard Marx's "Right here waiting
". Eric started whispering the lyrics to me and we began kissing. We were lost in our own world. When I opened my eyes, I saw that everyone in the pub was looking in our direction. I was confused
Then I realized the singer had stepped off the stage and was sitting in the booth seat next to us with the microphone, singing the song to us.How surreal.
My face was burning bright red and looked down
*******************This next part might be disturbing for some people due to the subject matter so reader discretion advised.
I was talking with my friend, Peter this afternoon. It was one of those chilling inevitable conversations you are bound to have at some point with someone. We were discussing death, dying and our mortality. It brought up a lot of thoughts, fears and memories
He had asked me: "Have you seen a dead body before, Clarity
I was silent, than I nodded. Not only had I seen a dead body, but once I had been in a room filled with dead bodies. It's not something I've ever written about before now.
During my third year of Art College, My figure drawing teacher conducted a field trip. In order to have a better grasp of the human figure, he wanted us to attend something called "Gross Anatomy
" at a state college medical center. He explained that once a year, the cadavers are lined up and artists from universities are allowed to draw them.
I had no
desire to do this. But My Ex-boyfriend, Justin did
. He wanted me to come along because it was in the same town that his mother lived in and he wanted me to meet her.
I'll never forget the minute I entered that room, the smell of formaldehyde choked me. There were about 40 tables with bodies on each table. They were covered with sheets. A man with a lab coat explained that these bodies had signed consent forms ahead of time to donate their bodies and organs to science. Bags were searched and all Cameras were removed. we were asked not to touch the bodies. He also warned us that the sight might upset
us because many of the bodies were opened up and parts removed.I was ready to bolt out of the room at that point.
I thought "I don't want to be here, What on earth am I doing here??
Then he began to remove the sheets and I nearly fainted. Not only were body parts removed, but some of the arms were placed in the open chest cavities and some skin was removed revealing the muscles underneath. It was like a horror movie, but these weren't mannequins. They were real cadavers. I remember fighting back the feeling of nausea
and trying to separate myself from the reality of what I was actually seeing. Some of the over-eager students were saying: "Wow, this is fascinating, this takes our figure studies to a new level, Isn't this amazing? How often in life do you have the opportunity to see something like this if you aren't a medical student or an undertaker?
" they walked around as though it were a museaum exhibit.
"These are real
people", I choked out. I was only 19.
"It's just their bodies, Clarity. They're all somewhere else now"
Everyone began pulling up chairs and sketching the cadavers. Someone handed me a chair and I sat next to the cadaver of a man in his mid-seventies. Half of his face had been removed. I sat where I could view the part that was still existing.
While everyone seemed unphased and able to see this objectively, I wondered "Who was this man? He was someone's father? Someone's Grandfather? He has has a life history and probably a family still living out there... Now he's on this cold table with his body pulled apart and artists sketching his remains
It felt wrong to me. I couldn't make the feeling go away. I started to shakily draw a profile portrait of him, trying to be delicate and respectful. I realized I was the only one approaching this in this manner. Everyone else was drawing muscles, tendons, chest cavities. I realized that I wasn't
at the level where I could
look at this objectively, I was too attached to the physical reality of life and my mortality. I cared too much about the idea of who this man used to be and the pain his family must have endured when he died. I couldn't deal with this. I walked out of the room, went outside the hospital for fresh air and my eyes filled with tears.
Later on that evening I was sitting with Justin's mother and father at the dinner table of his family home.
His mother had made a big pot of Shrimp Marinara with noodles. "I heard you loved Shrimp, so I made this especially for you"
I stared down at the tomato sauce..and the shrimp..the noodles...I thought of the intestines I had viewed earlier in an open chest cavitiy. This nausea gripped my stomach again. I excused myself from the table, went to the bathroom and suddenly I was vomiting in the toilet bowl. I was sick the rest of the evening.
"Gross anatomy" was not
for me. I didn't look at bodies or life the same afterwards. It was a defining moment for me in the sense that I fully realized how fleeting life was and never to take moment for granted.
There is an artist Gunther Von Hagens
that has a very controversial exhibit "Body Worlds"
I wont explain it, but you can see an article here
. Peter and I were discussing whether or not this was wrong. Whether or not it was disrespectful to the families of the people they are using in this "art"
. I thought that it was
rather disturbing, Peter said it was not
. What do you think?
On the other hand, Sometimes using organs, skin donations and such can change a person's life significantly. Such as this situation with a french woman that received the first partial facial transplant last month. (read here
) She had taken too many sleeping pills and she woke up to discover that Her own dog had chewed off the lower part of her face. (I read that and I was horrified
she is able to live a normal life. I can't help but wonder what the pyschological ramifications of having another person's face is though. Most people have seen Face off
. It strange to think that this is slowly becoming a reality with the medical advancements we have today. here
I realize I have to lose my attachments to my physical body and not care what happens to me after death. What is the point of having my body decaying in a casket when it can be used to help others?
However, I have to come to peace with the idea of being on a medical table and the possiblity of an artist some day sketching my remains or my face being sewn onto another person.
That's hard for anyone to swallow, I think it takes being at a level of enlightenment and non-attachment A level I want to reach. Why are we so attached to our bodies and care so much about what happens after our death? Obviously our true essense and real being goes so much deeper than that. No one can take that away from us, ever.
This is such a morbid subject, but at some point everyone has to come to terms with their own mortality. I guess my conversation with Peter today was a step in the right direction,
I have to confess, right now. I am really grateful
to be alive. I think so often we get caught up in the every day struggles that we dont' really stop to contemplate this. I'm alive and I have this moment. 1.78 people die every second
. 6,390 thousand people an hour. 1 out of every 113 people will die this year. So take a minute to appreciate your life and the life of those you love.