You are busy being born for the whole long ascent of life, and then, after some apex, you are busy dying—that’s the logic of the line, as I interpret it. Here, “being born” is an open and existential category: you are gaining experience, living intensely in the present, before the period of life when you are finished with the new. This “dying” doesn’t have to be negative. It, too, is an open and existential category of being: the age when the bulk of your experience, the succession of days lived in the present, is mostly over. You turn reflective, interior; you examine and sort and tally. You reach a point where so much is behind you, but it continues to exist somewhere, as memory and absence at once, as images you’ll never see again. None of it matters; it is gone. But it all matters; it lingers.”
“I just think that we’re at this incredible time of mourning as a world. We’re all grieving our lives and grieving the lives that we’ve had before and worried about what’s going to happen in the future, and we’re all sort of stuck in a state of suspension. And some of the grief therapists that I talk to, the counselors, they say when you lose someone you love deeply, you want the world to stop. And the world has stopped. We’re all like in this collective place of reflection.”
Sister, there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards, and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all, for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining, Sister. What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
“In the painting she stares out unflinchingly against a backdrop of luxuriant foliage. In the centre of her forehead, just above the two dark bushy eyebrows, is a perfectly circular round hole, within which is a rural landscape dominated by a skull and crossbones.
The face is neither frightened nor filled with despair; it is calm. She seems to say that if death and suffering can be accepted as a natural part of life then fulfilment is possible. It is one of her many self-portraits that relentlessly lay bare her pre-occupations with death and her own physical fragility.
It demonstrates her fearlessness in confronting what lies at the centre of existence: death.
By putting death in the place of the third eye, the chakra, she makes it the source of all wisdom.”