I was dead for 17 days and I have been reborn for 2

TBD, Radix Theatre, Tibetan Book of the Dead, Stanley Park

This isn’t the stretch of seawall that I walked during TBD, but it captures the feeling.

I really like this dying thing.

I’ve been participating in TBD, Radix Theatre’s immersive theatrical experience. It’s based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, which is all about guiding the soul through death to rebirth. 

Every day for 21 days, folks from the theatre company have some kind of contact with audience members. In the first podcast they sent, a voice guided me through my death from a brain aneurism. It was surprising peaceful.

And there have been even cooler parts that I want to tell you about.

About two weeks ago, I was parking my car in my underground garage. The garage door was closing when somebody yelled, “Hey!”. When I looked, I saw a guy in the alley. He popped down into push-up position and looked like he was going to scuttle underneath the door. I thought, “Who is fucking with me?”

When I went into the alley, there were two dead guys—or spirit guides—waiting, their faces and clothing covered in ashes. They gave me a little bag that contained a cup of salt, which, they told me, was about how much salt my body had in it when I was alive. They suggested I carry the salt with me as a reminder.

A few days later, a text told me that I should go down to Third Beach in Stanley Park.

There, I was directed to walk along the seawall towards Siwash Rock. “You’ll meet people dressed in black”, a guide told me. “You’ll know what to do.”

The guide had given me sound-muffling headphones to wear and, as I set out, I met people walking towards me. Some walked facing me. Some walked backwards. These disorientations made me doubly aware of how beautiful the place was, and how lucky I was to be alive—sort of—and passing through it.

I walked pretty far, left my headphones with another couple of guides, and was led to the edge of the seawall, where a guide spoke to me.

“Look back at where you’ve come from,” he told me. I did, and the winding path was exquisite.

“Did you bring your salt?”

“Yes.”

“Take a pinch of salt and throw it into the ocean for everything you’ve done…Take a pinch of salt and throw it into the ocean for everything you’ve seen…Take a pinch of salt and throw it into the ocean for everyone you’ve loved.”

I did.

“Now find a spot on the horizon.”

I did.

“That is where you will begin again. Take the rest of the salt in you palm and throw it into the ocean for your new beginning.”

I held myself together through all of this. Then, when I turned around and started my journey back, I started to sob. And, the path, which had been beautiful on the way there, was even more beautiful.

About Colin Thomas

Colin Thomas is a Vancouver-based editor, an award-winning playwright, and an established theatre critic. Colin helps writers unlock the full potential of their novels, short stories, screenplays, and children's books.

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