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Friday, February 23, 2018

PLAYING WITH SOUND

PLAYING WITH SOUND


PLAYING WITH SOUNDS : Linda Mary Montano

THE RESULTS OF MAKING SOUND 

Physically sounding and creating intuitive sounds:
*raises good energy
*encourages release of serotonin and dopamine
*creates a cohesive community
*can bring to the surface/heal memories and images from past events
*teaches a spirit of play

Anyone who has witnessed and heard the sounds of children playing in a school yard after an entire day inside,
has heard their sounds of joy, excitement and improvisational fun.

NAME OF CLASS: PLAYING WITH SOUND

PLAYING WITH SOUND is an experience based on the healing properties of group sound making.

STRUCTURE OF THE CLASS
  • Group sonic introductions
  • Breath as sound
  • A lullaby to oneself
  • Laughter as improvised sound-release
  • Sonic gratitude sounds/nature sounds
  • Sounding the community as a sonic portrait

PRESENTER:

Linda Mary Montano . I am a  Performance Artist and Certified Laughter Leader.  Having included singing and sound 
making in all of my performances, I have found sound to be an incredible tool of healing and improvisatory
story-telling. For more , go to my  WEBPAGE. Or Blog.Linda Mary Montano 

AGING AS ART

AGING AS  ART:  SHOW CURATED BY NICOLAS DUMIT ESTEVEZ


AGING AS ART and Performing for the Dead
An evening with Linda Mary Montano 

This event will bring together two of the movers and shakers of the performance art and art in everyday life fields in the U.S. for a participatory engagement with the audience dealing with the presenters’ experiences with aging and dying. Montano sees her body as a canvas, a sculpture that is chiseled by time as she grows older. Curmano has daringly orchestrated his own funeral in order to perform for the dead, and as an act of self- transformation: a rite of passage.

Montano says: “We all age. This is inevitable. Artists age, non-artists age. As a performance artist, my body is, has been and will always be my canvas, my clay, my paint, my material, and aging has brought an incredible menu to the table...a smorgasbord of physical, mental, physical, psychological and spiritual issues for me to choose from and work with and present to myself and others. One such issue is THE NURSING HOME! The dreaded last stop for many of us. And my theory is that if we prepare now, if we take care of our fears and angers and betrayals and jealousies, and rages NOW while we can still transform these obscurations into acceptance, then we will make it easier on the 40847 UNDERPAID nurses aides and caregivers who will feed, bathe and change our Depends. My presentation is an opportunity to bring up this subject as a discussion and then together watch my video NURSE NURSE, with participation from the audience as nurses and other personas that the video elicits. This presentation will last about one hour and it is not only a transformational experience but also a chance to heal unspoken fears and terrors regarding the fear of dying and death itself. After the event we will have a Q and A.”

WE ARE ALL HUNGRY

STATEMENT FOR PERFORMANCE AT  UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: WE ARE ALL HUNGRY


Hunger  is for food,  for love, for contact with the Earth, for sustenance.  We are born hungry , nursed or bottle fed and then fed again by caregivers in a nursing home. We rehearse by feeding ourselves mindfully, by feeding others, by growing food.
This performance is about my relationship to food which is one which gives me fodder for performances and prompts for my therapists. I was bottle fed, allergic to cows milk and then brought up on goat's milk. And at 20, developed anorexia, going from 135-80 pounds.
As a life-long anorexic, never comfortable in restaurants, to be fed publically is a way to help me  pay aesthetic attention to food, a way to be  'HELPED" by others via the act of being fed, a way to receive and rehearse the future possibility of my being fed by a nurse in a nursing home.
May all migrants, may all children of the poor who are perpetually hungry, may all who are forced to eat chemically tainted food, be nourished in ways that heal their loss of nutrition. 

7 SONGS 7 GLANDS

7 SONGS   7 GLANDS


JOURNALS FROM 7 YEARS OF LIVING ART

VIDEO   JOURNALS FROM 7 YEARS OF LIVING ART

https://youtu.be/hFIYnESD_LE

TEXT: NEW AGING: LECTURE AND PANEL AT MOMA, Curated by Paola Antonelli and Erica Petrillo.

THE NEW AGING  MOMA  SALON 22




TEXT:  NEW AGING: LECTURE AND PANEL AT MOMA,  Curated by Paola Antonelli and Erica Petrillo. January 22, 2018.
There were four other women lecturers and I represented the artist's take on the subject of aging and illustrated my process via videos that featured sickness/nursing home care/ nursing homes in India/aging looked at humorously. I also talked about the DEMENTIA VILLAGES in Europe which duplicate real villages that allow dementia/Alzheimer patients to meander in them without getting "lost." Safe aging. My presentation ended with documents of my work with chickens and text about nursing homes in England and New Zealand that give their clients a pet chicken to hold/rock/feed/watch/clean up after so that they can earn the title of HENSIONER. My presentation was interactive, per usual, with the audience making sounds/laughing/imitating chickens. LINDA MARY MONTANO


 Salon22

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Dear Volunteers for the WE ARE ALL HUNGRY performance,



Dear Volunteers for the WE ARE ALL HUNGRY  performance,

First I want to thank you for participating and to thank Ed for including me and Yuchen for organizing the details.  As you hopefully can see from the images enclosed,  you will be feeding me  food that I will provide. You will do this very slowly and silently.  There will be signs indicating that this is a silent performance so the audience will not be  encouraged to ask questions, plus the sound we are using will  fill the space and discourage  interaction with the audience. 

COSTUME;  Please wear all white clothing. Shoes also if  possible. Look like a "caregiver" or nurse.  Your hair can be  "nurse-like" and for  the nurse hat you have some options. Please don't buy anything. Borrow if you need to. For the hat:
  1. Make your own but make it look really authentic. Go online to find how to do this.
  2. You can get one on Amazon in case you ever want to be a nurse sometime in the future!!!!
  3. I will also bring a  white scarf-like head gear that looks like a nurse's  hat.

WHAT WE  DO
  1. We stand in a designated spot for two hours. You feed me when you are inspired to do so. I will bring the spoons/food. If you wish, bring a small chair if you need to sit. That is fine.  No intense rules . 
  2. On April 5, we will be at the Amphitheatre from 11-1pm. 
  3. On April 6 we will be at the Mall. Space to be determined by Ed and Yuchen.
  4. Before we begin we make a circle of paper flowers that I will bring...newspapers made to look like flowers.  We stand in this circle with our signs Yuchen is providing.

INNER  FOCUS:
This is about many things: HUNGER AND HEALING. With references to: respect for the body as it is,  migrants without food, starvation of many in the world right now, eating disorders, mindful eating, nursing homes, no more free lunches for children at  school , MGO's, poisoned crops and many more issues.
Your focus is to choose something in your life you want to address and bring healing awareness to.  This can be something private or if you like we can name each other's intention just before we begin.
Performance is powerful and helps raise consciousness inside the performer and in the audience as well. 

TIME:  Please be there one half hour/45 minutes before we begin.  So that would be 10:15/ 10:30. 

CONCERNS: If you have any questions about anything at  all, feel free to call me. Also if you would like, send me an image of your  "nurse costume." My phone is
845-399-2502.
My email is lindamontano@hotmail.com

With gratitude to Ed woodham for inviting me, to the University of Virginia for hosting me, to Yuchen for arranging everything and to you for performing with me.

And if in the future I can be of help to you, please ask.

In art=life=art,
Linda

JOURNALS FROM SEVEN YEARS OF LIVING ART: 1984-1991



JOURNALS FROM  SEVEN YEARS OF LIVING ART: 1984-1991  

After each year of the Chakra Experiences, I wrote a year-end report of ideas/thoughts/feelings/events.  For this film, I sung and spoke all of the saved  journals, having burned tons of them in a fit of privacy about 15 years ago. My need is to share, as much as  I can,  my findings and also document my understanding of the endurance penances that I had  given to myself. Basically I learned after 7 years,  that I was re-writing Catholicism for myself; that is, I made rules that I broke and because I needed to NOT FEEL GUILTY, in general, I forgave myself and didn't feel a shred of guilt for breaking my own rules.  I ended up beginning to drain guilt from my guts and bones. After those 7 years I performed it again, going down the Chakras.  I would say that = successful Art. No?

TIME: 2 HOURS 13 MINUTES
YEAR: 2018
CREDITS: Concept: Linda Mary Montano; Sound Engineering: Jim Barbaro; Video Editing: Tobe Carey.




https://youtu.be/2Fq44rne4W4

PIANO PORTRAITS AT HILO: LINDA MONTANO/NINA ISABELLE/JENNIFER ZACKIN

PIANO PORTRAITS AT  HILO:  LINDA MONTANO/NINA ISABELLE/JENNIFER ZACKIN



During these dangerous / confusing / armageddonned times, we are all looking for connection, understanding and warmth. The three of us are committed to providing public art medicine. ART=LIFE=ART. For our PIANO PORTRAITS event at HiLo, we invite audience member-collaborators to sit in a chair on stage to receive a public art healing. Linda Mary Montano will improvise your piano portrait, Nina Isabelle will interpret you through action / movement, and Jennifer Zackin will knot. Using knots and rope, sunglasses, costumes, blindfolds, action, movement, and sound, we will publicly heal ourselves and you. ART HEALS!

DOCTOR ARUNA MEHTA'S AYRUVEDIC MEDICINES FOR CHILDBIRTH


DOCTOR ARUNA MEHTA'S AYRUVEDIC MEDICINES FOR CHILDBIRTH

1.DAS MULARIST: boil, liquid for uterus, fallopian tubes, pain after baby born, cleans uterus.  take for 10 days

2. KUMARIASOT: stomach ache, gas, bloating

3. CHANDRAPARAVATI: general tonic, good for uterus, health, backache, good for healthy baby when pregnant

4. PATYADIGUGALA: stomach pain, tablet, general tonic, clear urine

5. TRIPHALAGUGALA: general tonic

6. DASMULAQUAT: everyday boil herb powder, for uterus discharge, for tube swelling,  10 herbs

7. GODHANTI BASMA: calcium, given during pregnancy

8. LO BASMA: anemia, iron given during pregnancy

9. VANSHALACHAN: calcium given during pregnancy

10. DRAKSHASANA: general tonic given during pregnancy

11. MANDURBASMA: iron given during pregnancy


NEW AGING : MOMA: GO TO SALON 22 TO VIEW 2 HOUR PANEL

NEW AGING  :  MOMA:   GO TO SALON 22 TO VIEW 2 HOUR PANEL



TEXT:  NEW AGING: LECTURE AND PANEL AT MOMA,  Curated by Paola Antonelli and Erica Petrillo. January 22, 2018. There were four other women lecturers and I represented the artist's take on the subject of aging and illustrated my process via videos that featured sickness/nursing home care/ nursing homes in India/aging looked at humorously. I also talked about the DEMENTIA VILLAGES in Europe which duplicate real villages that allow dementia/Alzheimer patients to meander in them without getting "lost." Safe aging. My presentation ended with documents of my work with chickens and text about nursing homes in England and New Zealand that give their clients a pet chicken to hold/rock/feed/watch/clean up after so that they can earn the title of HENSIONER. My presentation was interactive, per usual, with the audience making sounds/laughing/imitating chickens.


Please, allow me to take this opportunity to share with you the link to the online page of Salon 22: New Aging, which is now available on MoMA's R&D website.
Here you go: Salon22. Needless to say, you should feel free to pass it on to your followers and fans.


NINA ISABELLE PERFORMANCE

NINA ISABELLE PERFORMANCE


I appear as  healer, 3 minutes.  3 Hour performance.

 Beast Conjuring.mp4

DAD ART REQUEST VIA KATHY BREW

 DAD ART REQUEST VIA KATHY BREW

Dear Kathy,

It was such a joyous and stimulating experience being included in Paula Antonelli and Erica Petrillo's incredible Salon 22 January 22, 2018. At that time I had an opportunity to feel family-ish and wanted to find a way  to come back to MOMA and do something else!! That's what a good time I had. Their professional care and attention to all details whetted my appetite for more at MOMA. 

I know you also work there and was wondering if there is a venue for me to present my 3 hour video-performance-meditation on old age/sickness and the death of my father Henry Montano. We began collaborating on video in 1998 and after his stroke I continued taping. It ends with his death and burial.

I have made it an interactive experience with continuous audience interaction so that the questions/issues of sickness/caregiving/dying become topics of interactive inquiry. There are performers onstage to help make this happen performatively.

Included below is a description from my performance at  Bonnie Cullum's Vortex Theatre, Austin Texas.

All the best,
Linda   
lindamontano@hotmail.com

cc: Paula Antonelli, Erica Petrillo


When was the last time you sang a song to your pineal gland? Honoria Starbuck/Luanne Stovall

When you walk into Austin’s Vortex theatre you see the stage at floor level. The audience is banked on two sides. You find your seat. The stage is suddenly bathed in violet light, the color of the crown chakra, the color of mourning, of Lent.

One by one the nine performers walk to the stage, step to the microphone to reveal their day job and the role they are embodying, and take a seat at their respective stations. All are dressed in black and white. There are three Listeners — one with a therapy dog, a Water Healer, Dancer, Secretary, Choirmaster, Angel, and a Master of Ceremonies.

Wearing a flowing gold robe, Montano enters and sits at center stage, next to the Choirmaster. The Master of Ceremonies explains that we are venturing into the unknown space of death. We are invited to move in and out of the theatre, as needed, and to take advantage of the support system offered on stage. We can talk to the Listeners, describe thoughts about death to the Secretary who will record them on a scroll, dance with the Dancer, and engage with the Water Healer.

Audience members cross the threshold from the dark space to enter the stage illuminated with violet light. In addition to private audiences with the cast, a live microphone beckons at the front of the stage. Participants speak into the microphone, vocally meditating on a personal experience with loss and grief. The Angel with white gossamer wings comforts those who exhibit outward stress. The darkness provides a safe space of great potential. When we walk onstage into the mysterium, we journey into a spiritual place.

Throughout the evening, a large screen at the back of the stage plays a video depicting Montano’s father (before and after his stroke), his caregivers, and his dying days. Montano describes the video as “mourning art”. With the video, the cast in their stations, and audience members moving in and out, there is a lot going on.  At unpredictable intervals, a dynamic focal point is enacted at center stage. Montano delivers haunting renditions of lounge set songs. Her voice is mournfully hypnotic, laced with unexpected pathos and pacing.

Immediately following each lounge song -- and in contrast to the solemn ceremonial atmosphere -- the Choirmaster playfully leads the crowd in singing gratitude to seven glands: ovaries & testes, pancreas, adrenals, thymus, thyroid, pituitary, pineal. After two hours of this pattern of remembrance, deep reflection, and gratitude, we sing the finale to the last gland, the pineal. We exit theatre space singing I’ll Fly Away by Allison Krauss and enter real space -- the cool night and a welcoming campfire. The Secretary’s scroll is tossed on the fire, exploding into a glittering fountain of sparks that ascends to the heavens. We break into applause.

Interactionarama is a complex, generous, and profoundly touching happening. Montano has honed her art/life message and intensified her performing presence to create an important work of art. The title describes the level of engagement without exposing the gift of supportive spiritual opportunities this collective experience offers. Born of grief, Montano’s masterpiece is brilliantly woven from unique personal stories, sensuous singing, video biography, and cathartic insights. Interactionarama invites us into the Heart of the Deep and pulses with wise blood.


Honoria Starbuck, teaching artist, is a professor of drawing and design fundamentals at the Art Institute of Austin. honoriastarbuck.com
honoriastarbuck.com
Graphite demonstration drawing of foreshortened wine bottle and side view in toned graphite. 2015


Luanne Stovall, lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and the Art Institute of Austin, is an artist specializing in color with a passion for modernist design. luannestovall.com



THEMES FOR AGING PANEL VIA MOMA

THEMES FOR AGING PANEL VIA MOMA



----------------------------------------------------------------------------
THEMES and speakers (here in alphabetical order) — after Paola's intro:
(please feel free to edit and comment on the brief outlines we added)
Ashton Applewhite -- will talk about how discrimination and prejudice on the ground of a person's age are rooted in the negative messages about late life that bombard us from the media and popular culture. She will describe ageism as a perfect target for collective advocacy, as everyone  all ages, all genders, all nationalities  is old or future-old.
Bethann Hardison -- will share her personal take on the process and philosophy of aging, stressing how this experience can be better or worse depending on the culture in which it takes place. She will also talk about how the aging body is perceived by the fashion world — both outside the runway, and in the most glittery branches of the industry.
Carly Dickson -- will elaborate on the barriers and opportunities that different build environment stakeholders face in designing for older adults; and show how designing in an age-friendly manner is beneficial to society at large.
Linda Montano -- will talk about how age has affected her own practice and creative process. As an artist who oftentimes challenges the existence of strict conceptual binaries, Linda will talk about how the aging body  as an entity that represents an archetypical instance of transformation — has the potential to become a powerful source of artistic inspiration.
Liz Agbor-Tabi -- will address the topic through the lens of a wider debate revolving around the impact of major physical, social and economic challenges on developing countries. Specifically, Liz will look into the dilemmas and uncertainties that the aging of the planet's population poses for African regions; and present some of the strategies that African cities can adopt to become more resilient to this unprecedented demographic shift.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------

MOMA QUESTIONS FOR NEW AGING: MY COMMENTS

MOMA QUESTIONS FOR NEW AGING:  MY COMMENTS


Some of the questions we will strive to answer in our next salon: What is the meaning of the demographic transformation
the world is undergoing? What are its social, psychological, aesthetic, and ethical implications? How does this global trend
force us to negotiate novel conceptions of intergenerational obligations, expectations for a well-lived life? Do we need a
philosophy of aging? Are we correct to be worrying about the world’s population aging? What is the role of art in all of this?
 What will be the impact of a demographic tectonic shift for world politics? What is the longevity economy? How does the
beauty industry exploit ageist myths and stereotypes? Are there countries in which it is easier to get old? How does the
pressure to stay young forever play out in different global contexts? How and where will we live as we age? What an
all-age-friendly world would look like? 

elders: are subject and object to others
universal law of entropy
age as an arch
human spirit evolves
older women largest demographic
we live 34 years longer than grandparents
aging .-violence-abuse-neglect
reflect on life/change relationship to the past
blue zone....OKINAWA JAPAN:   1. EAT YOUR VEGETABLES(BODY) 2.BE KIND TO PEOPLE(SPIRIT)                                                                           
3.HAVE A POSITIVE OUTLOOK(MIND) 4. SMILE 
25% GENES/75%ENVIRONMENT

INTERN MANIFESTO

INTERN MANIFESTO



INTERN  MANIFESTO   by LINDA MARY MONTANO


DUE TO THE NUMBERS OF PEOPLE THAT ARE INTERNING  AND THE SCHEDULE COMPLEXITIES OF  THE INSITITUTE, WE ASK THAT YOU PLEASE  TAKE CARE OF THESE LIFE-DETAILS BEFORE YOU COME.

1. YOU FIND A GRANT OR FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE INTERNSHIP

2. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE TO FIND A PLACE  TO RENT  FOR THE ENTIRE TIME BEFORE YOU ARRIVE

3 ALL TRANSPORTATION  IS  YOUR RESPONSIBITY.

4 FOOD IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

5 BRING YOUR OWN COMPUTER                    

WE APPRECIATE YOUR  DEDICATION TO THIS PRACTICE/INSTITUTE  AND IN MAKING THESE ISSUES FORTHCOMING, HOPE THAT YOU UNDERSTAND HOW IMPORTANT ALL OF THIS IS AND  ALSO KNOW HOW IMPORTANT YOU ARE  TO THE INTERNSHIP AND THE VOLUNTEER SERVICE THAT YOU ARE OFFERING TO  THE INSITITUTE. IF YOU HAVE  QUESTIONS  PLEASE CONTACT: lindamontano@hotmail.com

 

MY LECTURE FOR MOMA: NEW AGING

MY LECTURE FOR MOMA: NEW AGING: R  AND D MOMA

Lecture for MOMA
Thanks to Moma, Paola Antonelli for the invitation and to Erica Peirllo, to colleagues and all of you .
My initiation to performance art and specifically to aging began at the feet of my grandmothers, Nan : a wild Outsider artist who let me stand next to her , in silence as she drew/sewed on her singer machine/ as she quilted, as she made miniscule furniture for aliens from twigs.  And as she played her harmonica and especially when she sang with her teeth out: If I Had The wings of an Angel.
My Italian grandmother taught me to age in prayer because her dedication, via hours a day of silent Rosaries, was  to her daughter who died in the Spanish flu at 3, in 1918.
I watched them both closely and see now that I have been mentored into  my own path and am aging just like them only my language is performance art.. Dear Performance Art, you are my therapy, my hospital, my drug of choice, my church, my medicine and my love. 
With you I destroy, transform and eliminate time and therefore aging by creating a 14 year endurance, dedicated to the 7 Hindu Chakras. I have rehearsed the consequences of aging/loss of sight by staying blindfolded  for a week, many different times. See my book ART IN EVERYDAY LIFE for more examples of my performative practice.

As  said, my daily life gives me prompts for my art. For example if I am lonely I make lonely art; afraid , I make afraid art. That is the recipe. So let's look at  my approach to one of my current themes, aging and art:

VIDEO 1.DYSTONIA: When I developed a chronic neurological illness, cervical dystonia, I immediately made a video to bring this fear/dread and pain to another level. That is, my video brought illness to the church of art, the altar of art and alchemized the truth with the beauty of creativity.

VIDEO 2. MOTHER TERESA: For forever I have experimented with persona and in1976, made a video of myself as 7 characters by sitting in front of a camera for a year, interviewing myself as these fabulous people. As I aged the people became older: Bob Dylan, a Woodstock musician Paul McMahon and Mother Teresa.  I was walking like her because of dystonia so I decided to cash in on my illness and wrinkles and become her. Maybe in the process some of her ease around wrinkles and aging would get transferred to me. Compassion via art.

VIDEO 3: NURSE NURSE    My belief is that I must prepare for dementia and  for alzheimners. I might succumb to both.  But I don't want to bring my neuroses and angers and rages to aides at a nursing home who are taking care of feeding changing and toileting 15 other clients while making $8.00 an hour. My Dad had a stroke in the brown Lazy Boy chair in this vide and as a result it was a charged and powerful object filled with triggering memories. I performed as if I were a struggling nursing home client and then allowed for the Angel of Acceptance to teach me how to receive help from the harried nurse . My art teaches me how to age with dignity.

VIDEO 4: LINDA AND TOBE MAKE A TAPE ABOUT DEATH:  My video editor Tobe Carey and I have been collaborating for over 20 years. My videos with him, specifically about aging,  allow me to take it seriously and also be light-hearted about it. Not only art is good medicine. So is laughter. 

VIDEO 5: BENARES: My journey to Varanasi was to freely look at  death from an Eastern perspective and to visit Hindu nursing homes which were often ashrams for elders who incorporated prayer and mantra devotions into their last  days. I want to retire to a home that is dedicated to spiritual practices.  It would liook like a monastery but would have a big swimming pool also and be co-ed. Chickens and kindergarten children would be welcomed.

THE STORY OF THE GEL WRIST BRACELET

THE STORY OF THE GEL WRIST BRACELET, Linda Mary Montano 2017

WIKIPEDIA SAYS:
Gel bracelets, or jelly bracelets are an inexpensive type of wristband often made from Silicone. They come in a variety of colors, and several can be worn on each arm. They have been popular in waves throughout the Western world and elsewhere since the P1980s. One style of these wristbands, known as "awareness bracelets", carry debossed messages demonstrating the wearer's support of a cause or charitable organization.

Maybe I went to see my neighbor. Maybe an elderly neighbor. Maybe my classmate from grade school. Whatever. Obviously I don't really want to reveal the reason but no maybe's about it, visiting the local nursing home  is never anything but  an occasion to participate in Buddhist/Hindu practices of Impermanence-R-Us. And revealing that my friend, my age is there with dementia is not an easy reveal. Not Maybe!! She is.
But always the spiritual seeker, I factored in and thought: isn't it true that Gurus/Rishis/Rimpoches/Lamas and aware spiritual teachers would send their chelas to graveyards to accelerate the student's focus/concentration/practice and dissuade clinging, desire and attachment to this mortal coiled body? Some charnel grounds were more Hollywoodesque than others, that is, in Tibet, nuns and monks would sit with the dead's severed body parts cut into smaller bites so the vultures would have an easier feeding frenzy. This nursing home was none of that, not a charnel ground but it was not the site of a girl scout sing along. It was a nursing home.

WIKIPEDIA SAYS:

The majority of Tibetan people and many Mongols adhere to Vajrayana Buddhism, which teaches the transmigration of spirits. There is no need to preserve the body, as it is now an empty vessel. Birds may eat it or nature may cause it to decompose. The function of the sky burial is simply to dispose of the remains in as generous a way as possible (the source of the practice's Tibetan name). In much of Tibet and Qinghai, the ground is too hard and rocky to dig a grave, and, due to the scarcity of fuel and timber, sky burials were typically more practical than the traditional Buddhist practice of cremation.

Although I pride myself on my ability to wear death on my left shoulder as Don Juan suggested in his Yakui Way, it is never really easy for me to witness, pass by, observe or try not to see toothless mouths open for air or a liquid meal; it is never easy to see anorexied elders cemented to wheel chairs or oversized lazy-boys; it is never easy to see elders silenced by off the chart medications or a big lunch; it is never easy to see the forgotten rehearsing death while maintained by harried, phone answering/poorly paid CNA's running down the hall to bring life back to one of their "residents" who might need to be toileted, fed, picked up from the floor, medicated, hoyer-lifted or turned.
Although I am always burning these scenes into my memory to be re-dreamed at night, prayed about at prayer, re-alchemized by video, re-told as written memoir or simply forgotten, I can never really disregard the images. One of my most burned into memory pictures is of the "tribe" of residents 3 feet from the circle-nursing-station, vying for added attention and never really watching the old movies projected from a neck-hurting high video screen...movies from the 30's and 40's when 40 women swam in swimming pool unison and men smoked Camels; movies that would bring the comfort of having ecstatically lived. At that scenario, always there would be an elder who wasn't drowsing, drooling or watching but calling Ma, Ma, Ma or Nurse, Nurse  sonically and loudly, touretting it over and over before their voice of impotence was transformed into  tearless, whimpering coughs in the pillow at night. For some that Final Silence would not come for dozens of years; years without hugs, cards, Domino's Pizza, beer or an ocean swim.

WIKIPEDIA SAYS:

Nursing facilities offer (by county planning process) the most extensive care a person can get outside a hospital, if one discounts regional medical centers, alternative programs in the community (sometimes now, medical homes, and 24 hour care programs), and the newer assisted living facilities. Nursing homes offer help with custodial care—like bathing, getting dressed, and eating—as well as skilled care given by a registered nurse and includes medical monitoring and treatments. Skilled care also includes services provided by specially trained professionals, such as physical, occupational, and respiratory therapists.
The services nursing homes offer vary from facility to facility. Services can include:
  • Room and board
  • Monitoring of medication
  • Personal care (including dressing, bathing, and toilet assistance)
  • 24-hour emergency care
  • Social and recreational activities (posted schedules)
Always swayed by seeing, I remember that I am mid 70's and am noticing people there younger than that! People who maybe did not injest glycophytes or antibioticed milk as I do; people who bought Organic chicken and  swam in private salt water pools as I don't; people there who watched the fecal count at local lakes and were well versed in the consequences of swallowing dirty water into their lungs. I do/don't. People there who knew about dry drowning. That is, people who once ate well, exercised, were professionally competent and now were the players in the dastardly days before the Endgame.
But I wasn't there to think about death but to see my classmate, now swept into delta waves way too early and silenced by her own mind-memories/drugs ordered by the medics in charge; silenced by her inactivity but most of all by an inner/secret desire to leave her unmendable nightmare?

I previously said I didn't want to see but I did see too much: the walk from the entrance door to my grade-school classmate's "pod" went past a 100 square foot dining room that encapsulate all of the best site specific qualities of a Bergman film, a scene richer in theological teachings than a $550 a week Tibetan teaching on Phowa and Chud.

WIKIPEDIA SAYS:

Phowa has many different meanings; in Tibetan it means "transferring consciousness." The highest form is known as the phowa of thedharmakaya which is meditation on the great perfection. When you do Dzogchen meditation, there's no need to transfer anything, because there's nothing to transfer, no place to transfer it, nor anyone to do it. That's the highest, and greatest phowa practice.

When my inner and outer time stands still it's usually an indication that I am getting my money's worth. It indicates an Ahaa moment. And that day was a money's worth day because I got to look but not look because staring would be a sin and allowed only in zoos but not nursing homes. But I wasn't staring as I would in a zoo, I was caught in a zone of no return, a Satyajit Ray film approximation that included not only visuals but a sensorium of nursing home non-meat soft food aromas and equally scented faux gravy elixirs swimming next to blanched greyish once frozen/boiled to death green peas.
And there in that one room, all of them sat, eating. How many? I can't even estimate. I just know it was enough white hair to create a memory singed into my dream scape forever. They looked up in unison, tremoring spoons dancing in arthriticed fingers; all of them dressed seemingly in the same dress/same sweater/wearing the same nursing home costume and coif. All of them eating in silence. All of them eating the same meal: meal number two. Probably their "Big Meal" with Wonder white Bread, ham and cheese coming later at 4:30 or 5pm. Meal three.
And there they sat, feeding mouths most likely sore from once meticulously secured but now poorly fitting dentures. There they ALL sat with mouths opening at odd angels. There they all sat like good newborns approximating "aren't I a good baby" breast memories of their first milk. There they sat, content and either being fed by an aide or feeding themselves. There they sat not retired from eating but retired from law practices, retired from scientific research, retired from housewifery, retired from relationships, retired from accounting firms, retired from pastoral duties, retired from political activism, retired from life. Now they embraced, not by choice but because of advanced medical necessity, the only jobs left to them: eating, sleeping, going to the bathroom, eating, sitting, sleeping and eating.

I wasn't there to cry or judge. I wasn't there to shudder with the realization that this "might" be my fate one day. Simply put, I was there to visit a friend and by default and because of this view of the residents' syncopated and contented sameness, I was moved into a sincere sacredness, a silence, a concentration that was breathtaking. This was holy art at it's best and they were performing a slow-mo, high-level conscious awareness and syncopated magic that only  Merce Cunningham dancers might approximate at a good gig. This was Holy Communion, the Eucharist secularized by genericed time/space and everyday context. 

WIKIPEDIA SAYS:

The Eucharist (also called Holy Communion or the Lord's Supper, among other names) is a Christian rite that is considered a sacrament in most churches and an ordinance in others. According to the New Testament, the rite was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper; giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the wine as "my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration Christians remember Christ's sacrifice of himself on the cross.
The elements of the Eucharist, bread (leavened or unleavened) and wine (or grape juice), are consecrated on an altar (or table) and consumed thereafter. Communicants (that is, those who consume the elements) may speak of "receiving the Eucharist", as well as "celebrating the Eucharist". Christians generally recognize a special presence of Christ in this rite, though they differ about exactly how, where, and when Christ is present.

And it was sacredly silent, like at Mass. None of the many, many synchronized eaters was squabbling; none were discussing the low price of chicken thighs at Sams Club; none were asking for a ride to a doctor appointment later that day; none of them wondered whose turn it was to do dishes. All of these issues were now moot points and the job at hand was to eat NOW and eat later at "supper" having eaten breakfast a few hours before. The job at hand was to sit with those exact same people at  the exact same place and trance out while shoveling in soft meals meant for mastication-light.

Student that I am of paths to enlightenment, I noted that days at the nursing home are not much different from time that students of meditation devote to intense Sadhana ( spiritual practice) in contemplative settings like monasteries, caves, contemplative convents and Tibetan/Hindu retreat rooms. Maybe, yes maybe I can scout out and try to locate that one or maybe tenth person whose eyes betray their purpose, whose eyes gave light-out not took it in, whose eyes signaled me that, "Hey lady,  guess what? This isn't such a bad deal. When your family sends you here we can hang out together? I sit/eat/shit/sleep/eat/sit but I also pray and use this safe and secret holy place to practice The Art/Life of Meditation." A hallucination? Believable message?


WIKIPEDIA SAYS:

The Hermit's Cave, situated on Scenic Hill on the northeastern outskirts of Griffith, New South Wales, Australia, is in fact a complex of stone structures.
Misleadingly called 'The Hermit's Cave', the site in reality comprises a complex of shelters, terraced gardens, exotic plants, water-cisterns, dry-stone walling and linking bridges, stairways and paths that stretch intermittently across more than a kilometre of the escarpment. Made single-handedly by a reclusive Italian migrant,Valeri Ricetti, these structures involved the moving of hundreds of tons of stone and earth, together with the ingenious incorporation of natural features in the landscape.


As my friend Karen and I left the nursing home after visiting our once critical-care-nurse-classmate, I heard someone say as they ran to rescue me, "Mam, Mam, you can't leave here! let me see your wrist band!" Turning around I realized that she wanted to shepherd me back inside, thinking I was delusionally abandoning ship. She grabbed for my left wrist. But I, not quite ready to give up all of the creature comforts of my second hand clothes stuffed into three different closets; or give up my car that jettisoned me all over Ulster County; or give up the thrill of owning and paying for my iPhone and computer which had become surrogate plastic friends-in-a-box . I was not ready to join their secular "monastery" and surrender my ability to be able to walk to Church, the bank, the grocery store, the park; and I certainly was not ready to give up my magical back yard and those 5 glorious  trees.... my nature family in disguise.
I assured her that I was not  escaping, although a sucker for signs that I am, for a moment I thought her right.
 
My wristband says PRAY, HOPE, DON'T WORRY: PADRE PIO 
Maybe theirs says, POD OF NO RETURN
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Linda Mary Montano, 2017