The Living Bardo

Certain beliefs refer to a place in the afterlife called the bardo. It is believed that after you die, you go to this place, which is kind of like a halfway house between your previous life and the next one.

I think that this is an interesting concept, whether you believe in it or not; the idea of drifting between one life and another. Personally, I think that we experience being in this state during life as well. I currently find myself in the “living” bardo.

We’re constantly changing as people. I just need to look back at my earlier (sometimes cringe worthy) blog posts to see that. I see things that I wrote during my teens or even two or three years ago and I wonder who the hell I was back then. What happened to that person and the many other versions of myself before?

It’s simple. They died.

When I look at my life, I can see many places where I “died” and became someone new. The earliest “death” was probably when I was around 5 and subjected to abuse by a teacher. My father “killed” a version of me on 31 May 2002. The small town boy in me died when I moved to Pretoria. My next big death came when my friend Jodie passed away. The same applies to the deaths of my grandmother and father.

Two different things currently put me in the living bardo. The one is the realization that maybe acting isn’t going to work out for me. The other (really big) one is the end of my relationship.

This last one is a really bitter pill for me to swallow. I always knew that I wouldn’t be the kind of person to cope well with a breakup, but wow, it really hit me hard.

How does the concept of a “living” bardo come into this? Well, I see it this way:

Something major happens to you. It can be good or bad. Either way, the impact of that occurrence changes you in comparison to the person that you were before. You may now be capable of things that you never thought you could do, or perhaps you lost some of your capabilities. This leaves you in a funny place. You are a new person, and you need to find out who this new person is before you can continue.

The person I’m emerging as from the living bardo this time is an interesting one, even if I say so myself. I’ve learned so much in the last few months. One of the biggest realizations was that I am a romantic. I’m not talking about horse carriages or fancy dinners. But holding hands, kissing, talking, or just being in the presence of your lover is an amazing thing.

I made a rule for myself. I’m not going to go on any dates until at least next year. I still love him too much. I have a feeling that I will probably always love him, but I need the crippling grief to die down. I think that if I were to even look at another boy at this point I’ll start crying because it’s not him.

But I’m still in the living bardo.

I’m excited to see who I will become this time. One thing is certain, I’m a lot more confident. Someone found me attractive before and he even dated me. That means that it can happen again. I’m under no illusion that I’m beautiful, but there’s something about me that some people like. The rest can fuck off.

The actor in me is much more stubborn. He hasn’t died yet, but he’s fading. I no longer get excited about auditions. I still enjoy watching shows and films, but I no longer imagine myself playing the parts. I have a few theatre productions in the pipeline because my friends asked me to be in them. But I have a feeling that after this year the amount of shows I do will decrease significantly.

And I will emerge from the living bardo. Different from the person I was before. Different from the one I will become.


“You’re under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” ~ Alan Watts


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2 thoughts on “The Living Bardo

  1. Pingback: The Places We’ve Been | Life and Other Catastrophes

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