on strawberries and death

April 11, 2023

in blowg

after driving approximately 2500 miles in 5 days, i have relocated from yucca valley, california to eastern illinois in a small town near the mississippi river. the sheer homogeneity of this country is just stark as fuck when you spend so much time on the freeway. everything in america looks the same, it’s all covered in trash and it’s a dirty, filthy place that is devolving into dystopia.

the amount of traffic—just endless waves of cars oversized trucks and semis full of garbage—really makes it hit home how little chance we have of addressing climate change. no one is going to give up any of this consumption willingly and we are all going to eat each other alive. it becomes abundantly clear on the road. in the words of zombie zombie, ‘driving this road until death sets you free.’

i’m reading a book called ‘Homo Ecophagus’ by Warren M. Hern, which is about how we are so rapidly consuming everything we might as well rename ourselves the ‘people that eat their own environment,’ and also how to reverse these trends, but i haven’t gotten that far yet. the book is both inspiring and depressing me.

my mother also died of cancer saturday, barely a year and a half after my dad died of covid. both were 56. so death is on my mind a lot. and i’m currently wondering, what is even the point of living? if everyone around me is just going to keep dying and the whole planet is going to be destroyed by our dumb capitalist extraction that is suffocating the air, water and soil… i mean, why keep going at all?

i wouldn’t describe all despair as suicidal. don’t worry about me, is what i mean. i worked through it all anyway and this is partially how. i was reading a book called ‘Zen Flesh, Zen Bones’ compiled by Paul Reps, which is a collection of zen anecdotes, myths, fables and even some regular ass old jokes. i came across one simply called ‘A Parable’ which goes like this:

Buddha told a parable in a sutra: A man traveling across a field encountered a tiger. He fled, the tiger after him. Coming to a precipice, he caught hold of the root of a wild vine and swung himself down over the edge. The tiger sniffed at him from above. Trembling, the man looked down to where, far below, another tiger was waiting to eat him. Only the vine sustained him.

Two mice, one white and one black, little by little started to gnaw away the vine. The man saw a luscious strawberry near him. Grasping the vine with one hand, he plucked the straw­berry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

oh yeah, i went. i’ve heard this story before, many times i think, but i had forgotten it. strawberries! that’s the point of living. i can handle that. yes, it’s all going to end in chaos and death. i guess that’s the point, actually. enjoy some sweet things while you still can.

one other poignant piece from the book is called ‘No Water, No Moon’ and it’s possibly one of the most profound depictions of death i’ve ever read:

When the nun Chiyono studied Zen under Bukko of Engaku she was unable to attain the fruits of meditation for a long time.

At last one moonlit night she was carrying water in an old pail bound with bamboo. The bamboo broke and the bottom fell out of the pail, and at that moment Chiyono was set free!

In commemoration, she wrote a poem:

In this way and that I tried to save the old pail

Since the bamboo strip was weakening and about to break

Until at last the bottom fell out.

No more water in the pail!

No more moon in the water!


On a recent ketamine experience, I tried to meet with death. I wanted to negotiate with it. But it was just this ever advancing massive wall that cut out every corner of the sky and was glacially moving through everything and creating oblivion in its wake. A tsunami of static that reached from infinite points but was endlessly narrowing.

This time, the moment I entered the wobbly pit that bleeds time and space, Death came up to me directly, said they’d heard I wanted to meet and offered to take me on a journey. We instantly spun through a swirling black and green bosch hell landscape churning deep time and they showed me the sticky black goop they’d carved out of everyone and everything throughout history. The bone white children weeping black gunk in the tar gummed swamps of forgotteness.

I saw that death and life were the joining of two wounds being sewn together, both threading through one another. And it was beautiful. The goal is to let death seep into you, absorb into your bones and dance with it as long as you can. Spin the twin threads into the most intricate webbing ever generated.


on a walk through the woods in missouri, i noticed how there was all this dead grass and dead leaves and stuff but so many plants were bursting through it and there was so much life embedded in death and vice versa.

i guess all of this explains why i’m feeling at peace with my mother’s death, though there are bouts of grief that will hit me all at once and it feels like a shiver, often ending with me weeping pathetically. but then i can reach in and keep going, keep the dance going for as long as i can.

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