I AM BREATHING – MND/ALS Global Awareness Day

Today on the 21st of June is the Motor Neurone Disease Global Awareness Day. To spread awareness and raise funds for MND-related research, an award-winning documentary I AM BREATHING will screen across the globe simultaneously.  Tonight I’m hosting a screening in a local subculture house called Genclub in Tartu, Estonia, but where ever you are at the moment – seek for a local screening in your town, as there’s 173 screenings taking place tonightI_AM_BREATHING_Facebook_Banner

While living and travelling around in variouscultures I have come to notice a general trend which could be summed up with the words: what is known is socially constructed, what is not known is to be afraid of. As an anthropologist, the tools I work with are about interpretation and translation – from one cultural community to another, from one language to another, from one reality to another. To create better understandings, to fight the fear.

I believe film is a great medium to fight the fear of the unknown. Yet when it comes to the matter of death we find ourselves in a paradoxical situation – we are afraid of death as this is the total unknown. No anthropologist can help us much here with interpretation. Almost all religions have tried to do so, yet death remains outside of our subjective experience, thus creating tensions, creating fear.

I saw I AM BREATHING at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam which I was attending as a media representative for Estonian independent cultural magazine Müürileht. It was a late night screening, I ended up in tears. These tears were not fully about sadness, but there was also something else – something that could perhaps be explained with this old Latin saying ‘memento mori’ – remember dying. Remember dying in order to remember living. Death is like a mirror in which the true meanings of life are reflected. Or just as Sogyal Rinpoche said:

“You will all die successfully.”

I AM BREATHING is a great film with an incredibly touching story, and I am totally willing to make my small contribution to raise MND awareness in Estonia through organizing a screening.

I AM BREATHING is about the thin space between life and death.

I made it into the fifth life cycle

Some first nation people in North America talk about 7-year life circles. Each of them carry some specific function for personality, each of them opens up some new layers in life. Since I was child, I somehow never imagined my life lasting longer than the age of 27. I just didn’t see it coming afterwards, except perhaps an image of driving a motorbike when already retired. But apart from that I didn’t really relate to any imaginations that would go towards the period of life which would start the fifth life circle.

IMG_8823Exactly one year ago I was raising some glasses with my friends in Yogyakarta, joking, that I sure will have a great last year of my life. And I felt I didn’t want any party, but at the night of my 27th birthday I wanted to pray. Pray for some absolute energy, ultimate vibration, null-energy, tone of the universe. And Shiva, yes. Hindu temples could possibly raise this connection. So I told my friends that I’ll be taking a motorbike an hour drive away from the city to a small hindu temple at night, feel free to join me. Instead of couple of friends (I didn’t expect anyone care to drive out in the middle of the night), we were altogether seven people – Berit, Marie, Monica, Jali, Ethel among them.

What happened though, was that our crowd turned out to be joyful people, full of life and… bigger plans. So on the way we managed to set up another plan for a much bigger Hindu temple. The one which was so heavily calling.

What followed, was the most exciting, beautiful, breathtaking birthday one could ever imagine. And then what followed, was the most absurd, ridiculous, embarrassing and terrifying birthday one could imagine. Which eventually still ended without any real problems, but the threat was real – to be fined for 10 000 rp!! And we only wanted to pray… Luckily, we were left with just the bittersweet memory of an adventure of layered meanings, absurdities, guilt, joy and a fortunately, a sweet follow-up.

Although I probably knew a year ago that setting my age of 27 as the last one to remember must be a joke, I was still curious enough – am I gonna make it or not. The year blessed me with moments, when I almost didn’t care for further. But even then it also striked my mind that the exhibition I was curating was supposed to open when I would be already 28. That kind of meant that I should become 28. How otherwise?!

Anyway, I still love, therefore I am. Now 28, silently entering my fifth life circle. It will be a blessing. How otherwise.