“I know that each one of us travels alone to love, to faith and to death.”
“Of a book full of death, reading how we’ll die alone.”
Taking notice of my dreams means I take notice of the world.
The best time to learn something a little out of the ordinary, the best moment for an epiphany, is the twilight between waking and sleep.
A dream that I once had led me to a revelation about my favourite singer, Chris Cornell, and a song of his, which I had listened to a thousand times.
It all began when I read on the internet about a Greek actress who had already prepared her grave in Crete. Death is a subject that intrigues me a lot, so the news stuck in my mind. I fell asleep, after reading many pages of Game of Thrones, Volume II.
In the twilight between waking and sleep, I dreamt the story of a man – it could have been me – who made up his mind to set up a place to die properly. So, he built a house made of stone, on a mountain overlooking the sea.
The house was isolated and the man was on his own (“alone” as Chris Cornell sings in his gospel).
The bedroom looked to the west and had a main window that was facing the sea. In my dream, the man had built the house there, with this specific orientation, for one single reason.
At the final moment, just before he died, he wanted to look out of the window and see something beautiful: the sun setting over the sea.
He wanted to leave the world like that, watching the serenity of beauty.
I woke up and went about my day, unable to shake off the dream. What was it trying to tell me?
The dream had opened up a new passage in my mind, but I still couldn’t figure out where it was leading.
That night, I was on my computer and while I was working I had YouTube playing in the background. Audioslave’s Like a Stone (with lyrics by Chris Cornell) came up on the suggested videos for the thousandth time.
(For those who aren’t familiar with his name, Cornell had become a superstar in the music business, but he was manic depressive and suffering from bipolar disorder. He committed suicide when he was fifty years old.)
The song was playing (keep in mind that I have listened to it a thousand times and have watched the video a thousand more) and then, while I was thinking of something else, I truly heard the lyric ‘I’ll wait for you there, like a stone’ for the first time.
Then, I remembered: Jesus had given Peter that particular name as he would become the rock of his church (no, fear not; I’m not a member of the Pentecostal – or any other- Church.
Could Chris Cornell be talking about death and God in this song?
Was he simply meaning ‘I’ll wait for you, like a stone’?
Note that Cornell makes no reference whatsoever to the Christian God, nor any other.
He’s just a man who’s trying to figure out, as he walks from room to room, what life is, what comes next and why he should die alone. He’s a man who fears death (Irvin Yalom wrote that the fear of death is a primal source of anxiety).
People who commit suicide do not hold death in contempt. Quite the contrary; they are afraid to die. That’s why they try to end this fear sooner, just as Cornell did (these are not just literary thoughts; read Existential Psychotherapy).
Sorry for making this heavy, but it’s ok. If you can’t bear talking and hearing about death, then it’s time you grew up.
Death is the second certainty. The first is life; before you die, you must first live.
We make art to defeat our fears, to become better people, to nourish our souls and to die with smiles on our faces.
Listen to this song, keeping in mind that it is a gospel.
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Translated by Alexandros Mantas: