wordly images

21st Century Eulogy?

Posted in Uncategorized by hellyj on June 18, 2010

‘In Gods Country’, The Painted Desert, Arizona


I just received the tragic news that a close relative of mine had very suddenly and unexpectedly passed away at the tender age of 37 years old. Obviously, this has been a big shock to all the family as he was a very well loved member of our big family – always ready with a huge smile and and a big bear hug, the joker of any family occasion, yet a sensitive soul, with a capacious heart. Suffice to say, he will be missed – enormously. He was also an only child and I can hardly even begin to comprehend how that must feel for my aunt and uncle, other than comparing it to the emotional turmoil that I experienced when my sisters and I lost our Dad (very suddenly and unexpectedly too) 7 1/2 years ago – over wrought, hysterical, disturbed, falling apart are just a few of the synonyms I can think of…………put simply: grief-stricken beyond anything I’d ever imagined I could ever experience. But, I dealt with it in my own intrinsic, personal way……I withdrew, voluntarily exiling myself,  from the city to the quiet little village that had been my childhood home, and into my Dad’s house, . It was there that I endeavored to process the immense loss, being very selective about who  I wanted to talk to, open up to, cry with, say ‘why?’ with………basically, who I wanted to share my grief with.

But a strange, insidious, phenomenon seems to have crept its way into the fabric of our society: the weird and wonderful world of Facebook! Now, don’t get me wrong, I use this social networking tool for all its worth – to market the fine art business I’m involved in, the African expedition and/or to share my images from my travels etc with my family and friends who live far away. But yesterday, I saw that members of my family were discussing the untimely death of our beautiful cousin openly on the public news feed wall! At first I was both angry and dumbfounded by this ‘oh so public’ display of grief…….and I don’t mean that being public with your grief is a bad thing per se, by any means, as we each deal with it in our own particular ways. But, the news feed page of Facebook that is not just read by your close friends and family but by acquaintances, business colleagues, people who have connected with you because you happened to have 6 friends in common, thereby you must have something in common too!?!

It was the oddest thing, watching those little pings of messages going back and forth: ‘RIP cuz J***’, ‘so sad’, ‘need to stay in touch n be a proper family, love ya cuz’, ‘we will be up for the funeral god its hard to say that’, ‘I’m here if you need me hun’ and so on it goes…..I watched, mesmerised (mostly with disbelieve) as this unfold over the course of 15-20 minutes yesterday, right after I made the phone call home to find out more (that was after a very close family member had Skype -messaged me to tell me my cousin had died!?!). And, what was I doing on FB in the first place at this time, you may well ask? Why, because its open on my desktop almost constantly so that I can catch up with friends and family. Hmmmmm…….is that kettle, pot, black?

And now, whilst writing this,  I got this weird feeling in the pit pf my stomach and so I checked my cousin’s FB home page and there it is,  an out pouring of  heart-felt accolade’s to my dearly departed cousin, from his close friends and family;  as if he could be reading them right now (in a more peaceful place, I hope).  As if they are all having a wake before we have even had the funeral!  I have to say though, I am crying as I read them………..he was a very well-loved, popular young man……I hope he knows that, wherever he may be…..maybe there is FB on the other side?

But then who am I to judge how others choose to air their grief when here I sit, writing my own tribute for all the world to read (should they even desire to in the first place and/or even stumble across my little page of thoughts in the myriad of trillions of blogs out there in the ether!)?

In the immortal (prophetic?) words of my cousin’s last ever post on FB (9 days before he passed) at 13.57GMT on 8th June:  ‘Closed!’


grieving, confused, hypocritical and contradictory

RIP J.A. – 1973-2010 You will never ever be forgotten

With love, ‘Our Helen’ xxxxxx


will to power

Posted in Helen Jones - Wordly Images by hellyj on March 31, 2009
climb every mountain

climb every mountain

I just watched the most incredible documentary that was truly beautiful and inspirational. It was called Blindsight.

It begins with the story of Eric Weihenmayar who became totally blind at the age of 15, whilst at the same time trying to come to terms with the loss of his mother who had been killed. Now, I think that would be more than enough to tip an adult over the edge – let a lone a 15 year old boy! However, Eric was determined not to let his blindness (and pain) rule his life. So, he set out to live his life as any fully sighted person would  – in fact he achieved, in a relatively short space of time, more than a fully-sighted person would in a life time: he was the first blind man in history to climb Mount Everest (thats 29,035 feet high!) and went on to become a ‘World Class Blind Adventurer’.

Inspirational is not the word and I will apologise now for the amount of times that this word may well be used in this post!

The next equally inspirational person to appear in the film was Sabriye Tenberken who, also blind, rode on horse back at the age of 26 rode through the Himalayas, with a local Tibetan woman, to find blind children so that she could open the first blind school in Lhasa for these children (Braille Without Borders).

Historically, blind children (people) in this remote area of the world are so completely and utter shunned – they are treated like lepers and seen as bad luck to the communities that they live in. It is believed that blindness is karmic: the child is thought to have been a ‘very bad/evil person’ in a previous incarnation. Not the kind of karma anyone would wish for! These children are spat on and pushed aside in the streets. Infact, the introduction to two of the young children in the film is of them walking down a street in Lhasa when they accidentally bump into an old woman who then begins to scream and curse them, telling them that they “deserve to eat their fathers corpse”!!!

Not only do they have to deal with verbal and physical abuse on the street but many of them also endure the same at home (such as being told to their face that they would be better off dead!) and some are even be sold into begging at a very early age, never to see their families again. And, this is not always to do with the fact that their families don’t love them but more to do with the ingrained ignorance  of not understanding that these children are exactly the same as any other fully-sighted child.

I think by this point in the movie, I had already cried 3 times and it would prove to definitely not be the last. However, my pity and sadness soon turned to complete and utter admiration and awe at all the blind people involved in this movie. And, i hope thos does not come across as patronising, but it was not just because of what they achieved because they were blind but also because of their determination, proudness and lack of self-pity.

Anyway, to cut a long story short (and to not spoil it for those of you who have not seen it), a group of blind children climb the 23,000 ft Lhakpa Ri, on the North side of Mount Everest. This has to be the most motivating, thought-provoking films that I have ever seen. This is a no-holds barred, fly-on-the-wall documentary that will leave you with a sense of whatever shit you may be going through in your life, then take a que from these amazing adults and children.

Thinking about what one of the guides said about how Easteners never even thought about climbing the highest mountains before Westerners came along and wanted to do it…….simply because they never felt the need to prove anything to themselves by this. So what is it about us, as Westerners, that we feel this compulsion to stand on the ‘roof of the world’ – that we always need to strive to achieve something/anything, to make us feel in some way complete?

Ok, one might argue that its all relative………….hmmmmmmmm………….I wonder if we can even begin to compare our Western needs, desires etc with those of a young blind child in Tibet’s needs and desires?

And, to paraphrase Sabriye Tenberken “its not about reaching the top of the mountain…….as these children have already climbed every mountain to get to where they are today…..”

Rent this movie today and I can guarantee that it will leave a little nugget of hope in every one of us out there, struggling to find some clarity and, dare I even use the word again, inspiration in our lives.

Dedicated to my struggling friend, PC.

PS watch out for the ‘Ice Palace’ scene at the end …….a place that is beautiful in its simplicity to bring such joy and happiness to those who enter it

Hellyjphotos.2008.Montauk, Long Island, NY State