This Descanso is in memory of Brian Simsovich. Brian was from Las Trampas and was only 17 years old. Brian died February 23, 2001 when his truck went over an embankment in a bad snow storm. This cross was made by members of the wood working class at Penasco High School and is placed at the site of the accident in Vadito
A descansos is a Spanish name word meaning rest or resting place. A descansos is usually erected at the site of tragic accident in which some ones life was cut short. To make markers on a page is a very good way of providing an outline for yourself if you want to write an autobiography. Each year when I worked with a new English class I would often get them to make Descansos and then write about a significant moment in their lives. Somehow the task always seemed easy for them once they had done the timelines. Another way to do this is using an Indian War Bonnet.
Darryl Blakey, the beloved soul mate of Heather, webmaster of the Soul Food Cafè, died on January 19 2006. The Cafè celebrated his life with us and the archives of this are unforgettable. Heather is currently working on a Descansos to celebrate their thirty seven year union.
Famed Jungian writer, Clarissa Pinkola Estés, describes the process of descansos in her classic Women Who Run With The Wolves. She writes that there is a time in our lives, usually in midlife, when a woman has to make a decision - possibly the most the important psychic decision of her future life - about whether to be bitter or not"
Estés goes on to explain that women reach the point where they are full up to their ears with everything and they've had it. Dreams of the twenties may be lying in a crumple. There are broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises
To cleanse oneself Estés suggests making descansos. To make descansos means taking a look at your life and marking where the small deaths and the big deaths have taken place.
She encourages women to make a timeline of their life on big sheets of paper and to mark with a cross the places along the graph, starting with her infancy all the way to the present where parts and pieces of her self and her life have died. You mark the roads not taken, paths that were cut off, ambushes, betrayals and death.
Personally I encourage people to make descansos by sitting down and remembering the significant milestones, by celebrating joy and mourning losses. Just as our ancestors drew on the walls of caves and sat around the campfires telling stories of triumph and tragedy we can engage in the transformative process of using story to help us in our Writes of Passage.
When we make descansos we undergo a transformative process and come to truly know ourselves and see the events in our life differently. When we gain fresh perspective we heal.
To read more about Descansos read pages 365-66
Application: Making Descansos
Take a large sheet of paper and with your timeline in mind make a collage to represent some of these moments. Look at the other things that changed the direction of your life and mark these.
When you have finished you can do a number of things. You can look to see if there is a pattern forming and consider how you have handled loss in the past and whether you can adopt a fresh approach now. Alternatively you may choose to write about some of the low times and remind yourself how you survived, how you grew
In making Descansos consider the future and try to plot where you are heading. Making Descansos has the power to change how you see things.