Thoughts on death

I spent this afternoon reading the first part of Jean-Christophe and his feelings about death resonated with me particularly.

It must be peculiar to relate to a young boy’s discovery of the full horror of death. He was only 11. And yet, it is the first time I see my own state of mind reflected. Now that the memory is no longer as fresh, it was comforting somehow. Like drawing strength from a shared sorrow and understanding. Sadly, one rarely gets to talk of death with their friends and family. Too morbid, I guess. But it is nice that books still talk of it.

Who sees it (the agony of dying) for the first time, realises that he knows nothing yet, neither of death nor of life.

(my back-translation of Rolland’s line)

I very much liked this line because that was how the experience of death at first-hand changed me. Fundamentally. I had been aware of death before, even experienced death of a close family member, but nothing had turned my world upside-down quite the same way the close encounter did. I have never even been able to talk of all that I felt, it would not be understood, so reading this book was like the first interaction on the subject, even if with a fictional character. Sensitivity connects.

I do wonder, however, whether I’m an anomaly for having realised the full horror of mortality only in my 20s. Or is it characteristic of our privileged European society where children are generally not exposed to death. Or is it also that a lot of people don’t realise it at all or at least not before their old age? One thing is certain: I took it like a child.

I look forward to reading how Jean-Christophe’s perception of death develops. Yet, and although I love epic novels, there is something sad in the finality of a biographical novel. You know how the story began and how it ends (if a proper biography) and it makes human life seem so small and insignificant. And sometimes, it is nice not to know the past or the future of a character. It is nicer to imagine that Holmes had a happy childhood than to know he did not. Or to assume Elizabeth and Darcy were happy in their future life.

Graveyard charms

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Most people consider graveyards to be grim places. Quite often, when I’ve chanced upon the subject, either as a suggestion of taking a stroll through the graveyard or by mentioning my fondness for local graveyards, I’ve met with raised eyebrows, avoidance or a mixture of reverence and horror. And no doubt, this is the proper reaction to graveyards.

To me, however, graveyards at day time have never been gloomy, but sunny and peaceful oases to escape to. It’s as if I lacked the symbolism and associations.

This is taken in the graveyard near my home.


When our family moved to a more densely populated and traffic-heavy area, the graveyard was the closest thing to a park one could find nearby. So whenever I wanted to be alone amongst nature and was in a hurry with it, I crossed the street and found relief in the calm of the graveyard. I went there when in distress and in need of a private spot to be miserable and ponder my existence. I went to have an idle happy stroll and look at the spring flowers coming to bloom around the grave sites. I probably also went when in the first euphoria of early love. I’ve composed poems and come to understand a few personal truths. Graveyards are part of my very childhood and adolescence. They are like my home outside home. Snug and safe.


My favourite graveyard is located on one local island. It is surrounded by a cobblestone wall, as seen above, and at the other side is the sea. I had never encountered a place of such perfect delicious tranquillity. The sound of the sea and the tree tops rocking gently in the wind.  If I ever become famous, may I be buried there.

This old graveyard is almost abandoned.

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Very few people visit their buried there. Most are long forgotten. Almost no names or gravestones are visible. One gravestone did mark the death to have occurred in 1913. How short is human memory, but at least the flowers remember. No graveyard I’ve been to is as beautiful in spring.

Dreamscape No. 1



If winter was not so long, I would enjoy it. But since it is, I’ll dream of spring and summer instead.


My house of dreams

There is always spring or summer when I dream of my future house. Like there is almost always a green season in Midsomer Murders.

My house is neither big nor small. It is made in the style of 1920s-30s wooden villas. Its most important outward feature is a veranda. My house must have a veranda.

Enter the veranda and you enter paradise. There are many large plants scattered about and a swing in the middle of the room. Naturally, the swing is not just any plastic swing. In one corner is a piano. At nights, it becomes lit up with candles, like the rest of the veranda. And the moonbeams peak in and mingle with candlelight. The veranda has windows on all three sides, and somewhere is a door with access to the garden. Sometimes I like to sit on the staircase and breathe in the night air.

There are cushions and some makeshift bed or sofa for guests and for me. The arrangement is rather chaotic and free. I imagine myself lounging in the corner sofa, candles are all lit and someone plays the piano. Later we talk. And crickets make a racket outside because it is a warm July night.

Or I daydream on my veranda during the day. Dangling my legs on the swing and wishing impossible things. There’s a small bookshelf in one corner and on rainy days I may pop in for a reading, with a cup of green tea.

The rest of my house. What more can be said. Veranda is the highest achievement of my lyrical imagination. But I will describe what else is there too. Maybe I want to compare one of those days.

I like little nooks and nests and unusual placement of furniture.  I’m frightfully lazy regrettably often, so I want my daybed to be built inside a wall like a closet or by the window, with drawers at one end. Then, if I need a pencil all of a sudden, I wouldn’t have to get up to get it. Oh yeah. Shame on the laziness.

And yes, I must have a daybed. This is where I make my nest and retreat when the world and people are a bit much. Veranda is a more social place. In the veranda, everyone is welcome to dream with me. In my nest, I want to be alone.

I’d like the carpet to be grass green. When I was around five, I  saw my aunt having a grass green carpet and I’ve always wanted one in the same shade.

Upstairs there are a few unusual design elements I can’t currently imagine, but which will come to me while renovating. The rest is rather traditional old-fashioned style of some sort. I’m not choosy, as long is it isn’t minimalist.

Sometimes I think it’d be fun to have a slide indoors, coming down the stairs. But maybe it’d take up too much space. And a secret passage into the cellar in case burglars or other bad people invade. Or simply a secret room behind the bookshelf.

Outdoors there is a garden. It’s a little bit wild and I like to keep it that way. The grass is allowed to grow slightly longer than on football pitches. And sometimes flowers and weeds have a bit of an open warfare as well. I interfere when it starts offending my taste.

In one corner is a little private garden nook completely enclosed and wrapped around with ivy or other overgrowing plants. This is where I go when I don’t want neighbours to see what I do in the garden. Which is most of the time. But alas, one cannot enclose the entire garden in ivy. It would attract suspicion.

In that garden nook are some seats and a sofa for outdoor lounging. Writing. Working. Eating cherries and chatting with kindred spirits.

The inhabitants of my garden also include lilacs, roses, lilies of the valley, peonies, jasmines, tulips, narcissi, and since it is a fantasy, I’ll throw in ylang ylangs for the delightful sweetness.

And with that list of intoxicatingly sweet flowers, this particular dream turns into a scent and floats away.


I wish something exciting would happen

Whenever I have really wished for something, it has come into my life. Usually in the form of an opportunity, not a ready-made-wish-fulfilled. But it has come. Then it has been up to me to do what I will with it. Use it, realise I don’t want it after all, or make a mess of it.

Only a few days ago I was infinitely bored with life. Nothing exciting seemed to happen and there seemed no opportunities for me to do anything about it either. Sort of like Sherlock Holmes or Hercule Poirot must have felt when they hadn’t had a case for weeks. I have the same craving for mystery and puzzles. Extreme sports does not provide the kind of excitement I long for. Neither does travel as such.

When I get bored with life and wish something exciting would happen, I wish for some stranger to put a little crossword puzzle in my coat pocket or a coded message. I wish to meet some new captivating individual who is unlike anyone I’ve ever known. And preferably, to meet that individual under very unusual circumstances. I wish someone would suggest I could come spend a week at their cottage and sleep in the loft. I’d spend weeks dreaming of it and my mind would grow quite intoxicated with all the pastoral dreamscapes.

But nothing THAT exciting ever happens. And if it sometimes does, it gives me my fill of excitement for a week.

Conclusion: wish more, wish with all your heart. It works more often than not.