Death is a Transition

Describe a contact you have had with some marginalised group (gypsies/ circus people etc). Has it shown you the deficiencies of your own world view?

This year I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with the Pararoos and Paratildas, which are the National Football team for people with cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury or symptoms acquired from stroke.  

These people are active participants in all of society, they have full time jobs, families and hobbies, however, these people have all felt that they have been marginalised  in football. 

Despite the lack of education and representation of these athletes, everyone can unite under the common language of football. 

Hearing the stories of hardships from people who have had intimate experiences with their own death, made me reconsider how I view the world and the experience of life with death. 

By referring to Tolstoy’s “Death of Ivan Ilitch” I have been able to grapple with the transformative experience of death. The symbolism of the “sack” in the quote, “he was hindered from getting into the sack by the conviction his life had been a good one that very justification of his life held him fast and prevented him from moving forward” is referring to the imagery of the black hole that he cannot escape. This image has come from his pessimistic visualisation of his injury and illness, he has been imagining the pain, by vividly imagining the “blind intestine” or cecum, which some of his doctors had identified as the source of his ills. Similarly,  the black sack also suggests the womb, which inverts the notion of birth and death, and completely twists what is a magnificent and sacred miracle to his own pains. This image can relate to the quote, “in place of death there was light” which discusses the notion of rebirth, and finding beauty in the face of impending mortality. Tolstoy wants the audience to see how death as transitional through Ilitch’s journey,  he depicts how he has truly turned around in his morality and that he had to turn to death in order to rectify his life. Ilitch’s life is defined by his inability to have a relationship with others, then suddenly he has an understanding of the other individuals as he faces his demise. 

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