On death and life…

Michelle Furtado
3 min readMar 8, 2023
Life unfurls in delicate detail

Been a weird start to the week. My wonderful cousin, Bob Goody, died — a poet, actor, comedian, husband, father and friend — a true gent. On the same day, I witnessed an old man killed by a construction truck. I currently feel a little haunted by this latter violent interlude, despite of all the horrors in the world as we speak, to witness something so closely hits hard. It reminded me of the visceral, meaty bodies we inhabit, of life’s fleeting path, how a moment impacts a life and beyond.

I couldn’t do much yesterday, I took the time to process. I went to the cold river and put my feet in the water, the ripples there reflecting the ripples of their deaths across their friends and families. Having lost both my parents within 14 months only a few years ago, the shock of permanent loss is vivid and deep. Pondskaters inquired about the ripples and ran from my shadow. Birds acrobatically chased flying insects and the whole time the river flowed and bubbled steadily towards the ocean.

Life is returning to the landscape, the spring is springing. Primavera in Portuguese, new life everywhere. The circles come around. Oddly, my mind is drawn towards other past traumas, the brain searching for more violence to find lessons and reason. I sleep badly and enjoy the full moon as compensation.

I think it is important to acknowledge death, grief and the joys of new life. Sitting here now, surrounded by nature, as I’ve written so many times before, I grieve for the loss I witnessed in the UK. Our beautiful living backdrop slowly losing its colour and vibrancy, seeping towards grey even in the green of our countryside. I have spent some time here in the garden, taking close ups of the spring flowers, the lichens and moss, the decayed fruits still clinging to the trees. The tininess of their forms hiding such beauty. We recognised them during the start of the pandemic, have we already forgotten them?

Our lives are short. A few generations down the line, long forgotten too. This is ok, a fact we cannot change, but how we now choose to live these ephemeral forms is now utterly important in the grand scheme of things. Never before has humanity been so influential on global natural systems, so destructive and extractive. Never before either, have we seen such collective energy in a willingness to change.

Perhaps it’s just my algorithm, or the people who I follow and listen to, but perhaps it’s more, an awakening of sorts. There feels like so much more collective passion evolving and wanting to live, to survive and to thrive. I see a shift in the work I do, more willingness to invest and solve our challenges. The energy from the grassroots continues to grow, transforming and taking positive futures into neighbourhoods and communities. Luckily, tomorrow is always the first day of the rest of our lives and therefore, a perfect place to be born anew, to spread love and joy, to walk alongside others and follow dreams.

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Michelle Furtado

Sustainability and regenerative, systems-thinking mentor, fine artist (sculpture, painting and digital) and community activist.