2012: Back to Black

I met my neighbour today while going out for a walk. I was wearing a bright windjacket, green and purple, she told me I was smart, the Italian way, meaning I looked funny, not in fashion, slightly out-of-place.

I know I am out-of-place in a fashion country wearing clothes that the establishment has not declared ‘in’ for the season, green and purple belong to the mountains, out of a grim and somber city like Milan, but I don’t care, I will not buy a new windjacket when I have one that works perfectly fine as a windjacket  just because I’m colour disapproved, I can live with that.

My neighbour said something else which brought up a flood of remote memories of my childhood, when I said ‘I know I should be wearing black’, like everyone else, the smart office ‘in’ people, she said that she only likes black on the plumper ones, the skinny ones look too thin, because black is the magical thinning colour, it makes you disappear in inches and gives that ‘Mortisia Addams’ look that expresses just what everyone is going through, the living dead, we brough the black outside for everyone to see.

She mentioned as well that she doesn’t like black, it’s the colour of mourning, and she recalled that when she was a kid around 10 years of age, her mother went to visit her to the summer camp all dressed in black, as a sign of respect for her brother who had just passed away. She asked, do you remember the ‘tight mourning dressing code’?

Funny, until she asked, I didn’t, then this flow of memories came rushing through my mind, of course I do. When I was a kid we had a  dressing code for mourning, it was stricter in the South of Italy and it became diluted coming up the peninsula partly due to our French and Austrian domination, we were less bound to religious and cultural rules, the South had an arabic domination, in Sicily many public signs still have the double language, and even the food can tell about their arabic inheritance. Dominations, welcome or not, are hard to let go.

The mourning dressing code demanded that for close members of the family, mother and father, brothers and sisters, children, husband and wives, strict mourning should be applied, that implied all black for women, including underwear and pantyhose, no jewellery except the wedding ring, no make up, no public appearances except for Sunday mass, forbidden to remarry or give up the strict mourning code for 10 years. For the males, 1 year of strict mourning, black tie, black button, black band on the arm, forbidden or frowned upon to remarry before the end of the strict mourning time. All the other relatives commanded a light mourning, one year for women, at discretion for men. Even with death women were asked to suffer more, longer, with more commitment to pain and suffering.

After a certain age inside big families especially, people kept dying, a brother, a parent, a child, so the mourning clothes never came off, mourning years had to be added, like a prison sentence and this is why in old pictures of Italian women that one can see in American movies they all wore black.

I cannot recall when this changed exactly, I know that even in the South, due to migration and mixing with other cultures mourning is no longer strict, one interesting thing that I noticed though is that black has moved forcefully into the lives of everyone else, the apparently non mourning ones, fashion is a huge supporter of bringing black into the everyday scene.

This is interesting because when I was a kid, black was a non colour, nobody wore it, we never had any black clothes except for the ones we had to have to go to funerals, any other colour at funerals would simply be bad taste and unacceptable, the sign of someone wanting to steal the thunder from the dead, not noticing that a dead had the thunder stolen by death and would not mind a little colour competition. Yes, because the only one allowed to have coloured clothes, was the corpse.

Our existences are developing from the end to the start of the Pleasantville movie, we started coloured and we went sepia first, by sucking out the life of our physical bodies and we turn grey at death, in between now, everyone wears Black, especially in the big cities, Black is Back, we have made official our state of mourners of the Lives that passed us by and we never lived.

We have lost ourselves inside the Mind, filled ourselves with memories, ideas, opinions, traumas, suffering, blame, guilt, shame and we no longer recognise ourselves, we have given up on ourselves, decided we were not even worth the challenge and resigned to our ability to change to go back to Life, instead we went Back to Black.

There is a way out, we have to give up everything and anything that we have defined ourselves as and we lived into existence, anything that we gave Breath to and that was not Life, the personalities that we designed to cope and that we use to play at life, that makes us likeable, acceptable, praised, respected and dead, we gave up our lives for Sex and Money.

The world is run by these 2 forces, we should stop fooling ourselves giving ourselves stories to believe, we keep claiming the magic word “Love’ hoping that all the bad, the negative, the very things we have created and breathed into existence, the things we don’t want to see or be a part of, will magically go away, we exchanged “Avada Kadavra” with Love and we keep trying it out, we throw it at people, we make sand castles with it and hope to keep them up, until the next tide comes in, the next sorrow, the next thing we’ll give away of ourselves until there will be nothing left that can stand up and say Enough.

Black is our ultimate expression, in a world full of colours we wear the absence of it, the absence of life, the ultimate symbol and visual to tell each other, don’t bother, I’m dead already.

But we are not, underneath what and who we think we are, Self is there, the One Self that equals Life and is Equal in everybody in value and opportunity for change, the Self of each one of us that longs to express, to demolish this world of fake Capitals to return the Capital to Life, because Life is the Capital that everyone owns and was born with as and into, the choice to mourn the death of Life is a tragic one, Life is not dead, we are, in separation from everything that exists we experience sorrow and despair and hopelessness and our slow death, the death of a Life that is never taken until the last Breath, but is exchanged for the razzle dazzle glitters and sequins that we use to thread the stories of ourselves that were never real but in our imagination and that have built the prisons we are now convinced we will never be able to leave behind.

We are the keys to our own prisons, free yourself with Self Honesty and Self Forgiveness, you can build your Self Trust again, all our judgements of ourselves and others exist in our make belief worlds and castles, we built them, we know how to bring them down, there is only ourselves holding the key to our jails, we are the key, we’ll have to undo the spells we cast upon ourselves one  by one, walk our life stories backward until we see the door, we are the key, the spells and the door, we are All there Is.

Let’s give up our make belief worlds, let’s give up Black as a symbol of our mourning, we are not dead yet, let’s get back to Life instead.

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