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Monday, October 08, 2001

Yesterday was a day of

Yesterday was a day of grief and discovery.

I attended a funeral of someone I never knew, whom I now wish I had known. Dianne was my neighbour Mary's only daughter. It was inspiring to hear her friends and family celebrated her life, and hearbreaking to learn of her affliction and pain. Dianne was not much older than myself. She took her own life, having taken an ill advice, as her family believed, from a book by one Sylvia Brown.

This self-proclaimed psychic and "spiritual" adviser wrote in her book, Life on the Other Side, that people who suffered from bi-polar disorder should commit suicide. In so doing, she purported, they would be born again, with a new life free of this pain and would again be reunited with their loved ones on "the other side".

I am a true believer of freedom of speech. However, dispensing such advice to people with a chemical imbalance, clinically shown to impede sense and judgement, is reproachable, if not criminal. Such action showed a careless ignorance of the consequences of one's own action, not to mention an utter disregard for human lives.

Seeing Mary yesterday, ever so brave, was almost unbearable. I wish this Brown woman could have seen the tragedy of her malicious words. I wish there was more I could have done for Mary, but all I knew to do was to be there. It is impossible to describe how completely useless I felt that afternoon.


After the funeral I went to see Jonathan's paintings at his open studio. Jonathan is a friend from the tuesday night Vipassana group in the Mission. His works vividly depicted the colorful scenes of San Francisco. I especially liked the on of a green parking meter on which he inscribed "don't waste time". Many of us can use that advice I am certain.

I have to admit, however, that the paintings I was most struck by were by this painter. I stumbled upon his studio after visiting Jonathan. He is an anthropologist by training. It was probably the ethnographer part of me that found his work so compelling. We are after all in the same trade, though with different tools.

I am struggling to find words to describe my reaction. I am not an art critic, nither qualifed nor aspired to be one. But there was something about these paintings, something in the light that seemed to eminate from each one. Or maybe something in the way the shadow appeared at times more seductive that the illumination.

Also the fact that he's quite cute probably helped some. :-)

Unfortunately the piece I like the most had already been taken. Such is life.


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