Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Loss and age

Had a dream recently which provoked in me a strong sense of the world as the kind of place that the Gnostics thought it was: basically God's nightmare. Mood has a strong influence on perception, so I know that while there is a very hefty case to be made for this attitude, it is not the only one, for sure.

For this and some other reasons, I have been particularly aware of the downside of life of late. And loss seems to be all around me. As you grow older, of course, you have a longer history of losses of all kinds. And if you have any resilience, you can use your past experience to let yourself know that you can survive it. On the other hand, the accumulation over time wears you down.

So I thought this morning of my last surviving sibling. I am one of seven. Six are left. And some day, one of us will be the last one. Having gone through the deaths of the other six.

Normally I am very happy to be part of a large brood. I know people, both as friends and as family, who are one of two, or even just an only child. Large sibling groups have their own problems, of course, but despite that, there is a certain comfort in knowing that a bunch of other people are in your brood.

But these days, where it is grayer on the inside than the outside, I was struck with the melancholy image of my last surviving sister or brother. Since I am the oldest, I am pretty confident that it will not be me. And since men die younger than women, it will likely be one of my sisters. It brings tears to my eyes to think of that.

So, loss. Inescapeable. The more experience you have, the tougher you become about it, I think. But just as much, if not moreso, the more you have of it, the less you have left to be tough with.

Like I said, today it seems the Gnostics had a definite point.


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