Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Cape

I am now on?/in?/at? Cape Cod. Never been here before. Lots and lots of people. Made it to the beach to take a long walk. I took some time to make a sketch of the ocean. I really challenged myself to focus and try to capture the beauty of it all. Isn't it beautiful?!

Just jokin...I did sketch a few things today. Before leaving Providence, I went back to a cemetery we'd driven past a couple of times. It was just kind of in a field across the street from some houses and on the edge of the Naragansett River. We thought it might be a military cemetery because the tombstones were all so uniform. When I went back and read the information there, I found it to be really poignant and sad.

The graves were those of p
eople who had died in the Rhode Island state mental institution or the "almshouse" and didn't have any other family, friends or arrangements for themselves. The saddest part was that most of the tombstones didn't even have a name. Just a number. The time frame for the deaths was between 1933 and 1952.

Rows and rows of tombstones with no name, no family, no date of birth or death.

I haven't been hospitalized for mental health issues but I've certainly had my share of struggles and have worked with some wonderful people who needed to go to the hospital. I can't imagine what it would have been like to go through those times without sufficient financial resources or support to get better. It must have been a very difficult life. I can only hope that they were treated well and with some tenderness. Although, given the time frame, I doubt that a mental hospital was a very nice place to be.

It was a powerful reminder to be in the moment, to be true to myself and to take risks because life is very, very short. Eventually, I won't have any more moments or any more opportunities to feel alive. My heart broke for these people who were institutionalized or destitute and who died without knowing if there were people who cared. Perhaps even feeling like they were a number rather than a person. Very sad.

I found myself wishing I had time to do some research and find out if there is a record of names, etc. It would be interesting to pull a
ll of that together and acknowledge the lives of people who were so vulnerable and forgotten. Unfortunately, there are still people who are having the same experience today. I guess it helps me value the work that I do because I try to give the people I work with some sense of their worth which is often lacking in other places in their lives.

To entirely change gears and in the interest of living life to the fullest, though, I had to do a drawing of an image I had about moon pies. Have you ever had a moon pie? They're the most delicious, mouthwatering treat you can imagine. I think it's a northeast thing. A moon pie is basically an eight inch wide, two inch thick oreo only much, much, much better. The cakey outside is like a mix between rich, dark chocolate cake and a brownie because it's soft and moist but it holds together. Then on the inside, they put soft, fluffy white icing. Heaven.

I had an image of the skies raining moon pies down on me so that all I'd have to do is open my mouth and eat them up.
Maybe I'll find a recipe and bring some to class...

So that's my little trip report for the day. Bike riding and reading on the beach tomorrow...peaceful and reflective.

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