Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

What a wonderful morning to die


Parenting, Playful Advice

Walking to the studio at dawn on this the first day of my sixty-fifth spin, I mused; ‘what a wonderful morning to die.’ No, this is not some morbid depress-wish. It is complete amazement at the wonder, the beauty and constant newness each breath brings.

Puling the jacket tighter a dream like cascade of past lives flashed; moments of my childhood, my first family and what an amazing journey that was, its’ explosive ending, bankruptcy, living in a tepee, eating at Taco Bell for the Friday treat, making five trips to Europe producing a documentary on trance music in the Rif region of Morocco, over 100 interviews with Krishnamurti and those he influenced, another 100 with Joseph Chilton Pearce and others deeply concerned with the state of childhood, all these like Christmas past in a Dickens’s short story, and each moment sculpting a new facet, etching a new curve in this amazing journey. Not one of these defining moments was predicted, planned for, nor did any one or all together work out as un-planned. Astonishing surprises marked the trail and every turn.

I sipped morning’s brew, polished a few lines of the essay de jure, We Are the Mad Matter and The Tea Party, coming soon, and then returned to greet Carly Elizabeth, four months and one week new, smiling up, nuzzling in mother’s arms. No way. This beauty has doubled her size from her exciting birth on the floor next to the bath to a holiday photo shoot just yesterday.

If she could change so miraculously in a few short weeks, what about me? Of course I can’t change physically as she does, but I can let go of the past and embrace this new explosive moment as richly and deeply as she. Psychologically letting go of the past is what I mean by; ‘What a wonderful morning to die.’ It is impossible to grasp, to cling to the past and embrace this new miracle at the same time. It can’t be done. We are either being born again and again or we are stuck, marinating in memories. Yes, we can use memory to efficiently tie our shoes but psychologically we are never the same, except in our imagination.

Years ago the images of us being like fountains or rivers flashed. The form, river and fountain, appear to remain the same but the moving water that crates form is not, ever. We are like that, always moving, changing just like Carly Elizabeth. The difference is; she has no mental images, fixed patterns to cling to. We do.

It is these images, these phantom memories that we compare, cause us embarrassment, are envious about. Comparing, judging, insisting on the correctness, the absolute need and necessity of these fixed memories or images create our jealously, our humiliation, sadness, very often what we are depressed about and our wars. Carly hasn’t created these yet. Perhaps, if we are lucky or very skillful, the images she identifies with will be more attuned to the water than the fountain. Imagine if everyone, if all the children in the world identified with the creative ever-changing moment by moment movement that they are instead of fixed forms; German, Protestant, Republican or even white or black, native or billionaire. That simple change, a slight twist of imagined identity would change the world and profoundly.

It is a little tricky this self-image business. Inseparable from semantic language, woven deep in our emotional-relational brain centers, abstracted by our symbols, naming and language. We can’t avoid the temptation to identify. But what if? What if we identified with the movement, the ever-changing waters that we actually are and not the fixed-image-forms our memory clings to? Shame would never scar us. Hate would not exist. Embarrassment and humiliation would be laughed at. Racism, bigotry and the violence these spawn would hold no currency. None of these would exist and all the energy and attention that goes into justifying and defending these images would be invested in enhancing the movement, in the dance.

Is it possible? We will see. But now, it is time to dance.

Michael Mendizza