Celebrating Life with Grief – The Talent of Deep Living

Posted by on Oct 15, 2012 in Critic's Area | 3 comments

In his seminal work Stars, Richard Dyer appropriately argues that “talent is historically and culturally specific.  Even if one simply meant talent as skill, one would have to ask, skill at what?”

Stephen Jenkinson’s words on loving and living with grief are probably the least mentioned skills in celebrity culture.  Yet, many heroic public personalities and fellow human beings achieve deep living and celebrate life through the wisdom of death that Jenkinson shares.  I received Jenkinson’s knowledge of ‘Orphan Wisdom’ during my latest writing retreat near Kawartha Lakes in Ontario, Canada.  As I prepared course content and lectures on celebrity culture, I reflected on his words of unconditional love, care for the dying, and celebrating life.  The absence of these practices is a dominant cultural construct that is present in our contemporary culture.

At a relatively young age, my mum Saswati Nandy passed away due to sudden lungs cancer.  At that time, I learnt that death ironically teaches unknown aspects of life.  The success in achieving one’s higher path through grief – a path that is not meant to be the same as others – is not simple consumption of what physically appears to be beautiful in life.  For Jenkinson, “Creation longs to be seen, through the singing and response, or the gesture that you make, or your willingness to dress in your finest so that there’s no such thing as work clothes anymore. Rather than your gifts, call them capacities to make beauty.”

Glamour: A History by Stephen Gundle

Can we all live together and learn how to love what ‘ends,’ create beauty, and be prepared for what we commonly think as an illusion or distant possibility?  In celebrity culture, as Stephen Gundle would say, “glamour is an illusion that can only be partially fulfilled.” This partiality is a paradox to sustaining desire for living and appearing well.  The truth lies in the death of the desire, and not in the ongoing question of authenticity found in the paradox that aims to partially sustain it. More importantly, truth lies in the death of the physical body and in the call for loving all sentient beings.  Jenkinson’s call for conscious walking with grief, creating beauty, and connecting through stories are some of the ways in which we can create sustainable joy and not evade the question of death through fleeting pleasures of life.

Sincere thanks to Lynn Manwar for sharing her cottage – a healing place for reading Stephen’s Jenkinson’s words.  Also, thanks to George Marques for sharing Jenkinson’s deep knowledge.  I encourage all to share thoughts and reflections in the comments area below.  For more information on Jenkinson and his healing words, please visit www.orphanwisdom.com.

With memories and peace from Kawartha Lakes,

Samita Nandy


  1. What a joy to have discovered Stephen Jenkinson! In the trailer to the film Grief Walker (see http://www.ophanwisdom), Stephen uses the most profound words of wisdom I’ve heard spoken to some-one approaching death. Thanks Samita for sharing! xx

  2. Jenkinson’s words are truly wise and worth pondering. I’ve always found that by enjoying the beauty of an artist’s talent, whether it be as a musician, writer, actor, painter or photographer, that I do find moments of solace and respite from grief and indeed, that without the beauty and joy of the arts that life would be almost too painful to endure.

  3. Dear Linda and Christine, it is such a joy to read your thoughts in response to Stephen Jenkinson’s words – thank you so much for posting! My thanks to all readers who stopped by and ‘liked’ the post as well. Yes, Stephen’s words are wise and can be well applied to creating and appreciating beauty through arts. I am looking forward to sharing more on precious ways in celebrating life and shining as a star on one’s own path. Your inspiration and thoughts are part of this journey. Thanks again and more soon, Samita!

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