Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust

Here lies two souls no longer among us in their physical form as we once new them. Here's my cat, at around 15 years old, approximately one month before he died, and about a month after my grandma died. And here's my grandma, 89 years old, her cremains in a box within the purple bag behind my cat.

My cat gravitated to that spot, don't know if he sensed her remains were there, or not, but they were good buddies, and he'd often sit beside her behind the sofa, her head behind him just like this in a similar position to the purple bag that contains her ashes.

I think her death, and the trauma of moving abruptly to unfamiliar surroundings, twice within a couple of weeks, helped to do him in. I thought he'd live to be 30, just as I thought my grandma would live to be 100, but it was not to be.

What did I learn from the whole ordeal? Well, I'm definitely still processing it. It wounded me to a significant extent, and it will probably be quite some time before I'm fully healed, if ever. It was definitely a life changing experience, and will most likely never be the same.

I learned a lot about the devastating effects of stroke, that some people don't get better, they get progressively worse,  and that when a person loses the ability to swallow, their not going to be around much longer.

I also learned that having high blood sugar and high blood pressure make you more likely to have a stroke. I learned to pay closer attention to the sodium content of foods. Like for instance, before when reading the nutrition labels of food, I focused mostly on calories and fat and sugar, and totally overlooked the sodium content.

I knew that canned foods, ramen noodles and microwave dinners are notorious for being high sodium, but I didn't realize that there are many foods that are high in sodium that I never would have suspected. For instance, two staples of my diet turned out to be sort of high sodium, which is burritos and pasta sauce. But at the same time, even though flour tortillas and pasta sauce are typically high sodium items, there is a big difference between brands, some being a couple hundred milligrams of sodium less than the other, so it pays to compare labels.

You've got to watch out for those hidden sources of sodium, because a lot of products advertise that they are low calorie, low fat, low sugar, but if you don't read the fine print you might miss the fact that the sodium content may be actually extremely high. Making it not as healthy of a choice than you originally may have been lead to believe.

I also learned that stress can be a major contributor to high blood pressure.

I saw and experienced first hand how being extremely stressed out, angry and upset, crying, worrying, raises blood pressure. I believe that was a significant factor in my grandmothers decline. And I could see that if I don't get a handle on managing my stress better I too will surely develop problems in spite of doing most everything else right. I could be extremely fit, living a very active lifestyle, eating healthfully, getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, but if I'm stressed out more often than not, I too could have a stroke.

I learned something about what causes death, but I still am processing the meaning of death. The way I see it, death is the greatest mystery. I've seen it up close and personal this time, more personal than I've ever experienced it before, and I still don't understand it any better. If anything, the mystery is even more mysterious, to see someone I cared for immensely completely disappear off of the face of the earth. To be here one day, and then gone the next, and never to be seen again as long as I walk this earth.

Though I do believe in reincarnation, I am not absolutely certain I will see my grandmother again, or anyone I know in this present life once they or I die. I'm just trying to wrap my mind around it, the more I think about it it doesn't really make any sense, it's like an unsolvable cosmic riddle, and I suppose that is something I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure out.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Tribal Mask Inspiration

I found this beetle walking around outside the front door of my new apartment in late June during the monsoon season. Haven't seen anything like it since, but it sure caught my eye. It still does.

The pattern on its body reminds me of some kind of tribal mask, from either Polynesia or Africa. I'm seeing a little bit of a Tiki head sculpture in it too. I'm thinking their tribal masks were probably inspired by something like this.

It's pretty cool. If you happen to know the name of this beetle please add it in the comments, I'd sure appreciate it.