By A-lan Holt
“Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, …in order to deny the fact of death, the only fact we have. It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death--ought to decide, indeed, to earn one's death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life. One is responsible for life: It is the small beacon in that terrifying darkness from which we come and to which we shall return.”
—James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time
In evolutionary cosmology there is this story told about galaxies. In the universe there exists two types: spherical galaxies and elliptical galaxies. The primary difference between the two is that spherical galaxies, in all their chaos and madness, have the ability to produce stars. Elliptical galaxies, on the contrary, do not. They are in a continual state of decay—they are dying, so to speak.
Recently, scientists have found that when a spherical galaxy spends significant time near the gravitational pull of an elliptical galaxy, what once was considered lifeless becomes transformed—the elliptical galaxy begins producing stars, too! Like magic. Like love.
As humans we have the ability to do the same. To produce stars out of the madness of our world. This creative energy allows others to do the same, creating a life force stronger than death.
Recently, my best friend lost her partner Ruth to colon cancer—she was very young, about 32. My friend in talking about her last moments said, “she died in my arms”. The closest I’ve experienced such intimacy was giving birth to my daughter. My partner held me as I leaned into my own mortality; then again, an emotional death later that year when my partner would leave, the way my heart felt then, full circle. I’m sure you can relate to many of these things. In those moments we found the ability to face our deepest fear straight on, and through that honest confrontation the ability to be transformed in the process.
Ruth was a spherical galaxy, this I know for sure. I witnessed the way she could utterly transform a room with her smile, with her apparent passion for life. There have been a few moments when I have shared such boldness. Giving birth, writing and performing poems. These days, death feels so much closer to life. Maya Angelou said, “Live your life so that you will not leave too many things undone. Live the life you sing about. Live the life. That’s it.”
In releasing our fear of death, the greatest unknown, we align ourselves with the larger constructive forces of the universe. Our energy is our truth (we have heard that energy can not be created or destroyed). Giving intention and affirmation to that source energy is in the crux of our power. Giving birth to stars all around us everyday is a manifestation of our truest divinity. All these things I learned from death; that there is life, there is life, there is a life left to live.
A-lan Holt is a dramatist and intuitionist who enjoys reading cards and crafting plays. She is the youngest playwright awarded a two-year residency at the Tony-Award winning Public Theater in New York City (2013). Her plays and performances have been presented throughout the country and internationally at the National Theater in Kampala, Uganda (2010). A-lan's artistic practice is an affirmation of her desire to heal and heal others. She is interested in cultivating projects pertaining to the relationship between art-practice, health and spirituality. Her work can be found online at a-lan.me