I’m busier and more energetic than I was during previous months, but lurking under all of that is a feeling of sadness. I won’t say that I don’t know why… it would surprise me if there was even one person under the sun who doesn’t know the feeling. The more connected and involved you are, the more deeply buried is that discomfort, but it will surface eventually.
I think a lot of it is because things change so fast. You have parents, grandparents and friends at school, then suddenly it’s just your parents (maybe one parent), and friends at university (different friends)… then you are working and living somewhere else. You have pets, and when they die, you soothe your grief with new kittens or puppies, who grow old in their turn.
With every year, your past drops more and more behind, and all of a sudden you wake in the middle of the night and realize the sheer weight of all of the things you don’t have any more, some of which you didn’t even notice stopping or going away.
Every year it gets worse. The things and people you have right now, most of which you take for granted even while you love and appreciate them, will one day be mist and memories like everything else.
Even as you look around the room, paying more attention to your surroundings than you normally do, there’s something unsatisfying about the experience. Objects fade into hazy dimness after your gaze moves on, and it’s as though your here and now isn’t real… in fact, it isn’t! The moment is already gone, and what’s no longer in your sight (even while still in the room) is just memory… if that.
Your mind is the same — like your gaze, it moves over objects and environment, spotlighting things for as long as you care to dwell, then letting them slide into the dark. Having gone into that dark, it can be a struggle for some things to ever reappear again!
It turns into a merry-go-round or baggage carousel, with your thoughts as the same oddly shaped baggage passing time after time. There’s the big blue trunk… the drab rucksack… the red vanity case. The big blue trunk again — I’ll need it soon, but the moment’s not right. The red vanity case… so bright and pretty nobody would ever forget about it. Wasn’t there another one? What was it again, and do I care? I’m comfortable enough without it. Oh wait, the drab rucksack! I do need that because my documents are in it.
On some days the same bags pass repeatedly, and I can never understand why they don’t stay put in my mind for when I need them. Instead, they are doomed to constantly disappear, and when they reappear, I’m as surprised as I was the first time.
Some nights I use a particular thought to comfort myself, as though I’ve found a cosy spot and collected the red vanity case onto my knees. I open it and spend time admiring the colourful contents and inhaling favourite perfumes. I don’t move on from that for a while, but eventually my mind drifts away of its own accord, sometimes to scarier places. Finally those thoughts too, flit away, and I fall asleep.
I feel quite sorry for us as living beings. We aspire to be more, but are mere flashes of light and electricity; sparkling stardust and water. Amongst each other we walk, striving to keep each other fixed and secure, but things continually move on and change. New technologies become old in no time at all, and the sands shift beneath our feet.
And yet… nothing has changed at all. We’re the same people, living the same lives. I feel as though I’m living a life that somebody else has lived before me, experiencing trials and tribulations that troubled someone else in another age. The same words are used over and over through the generations… right, left, poverty, trade, global, independence, freedom, nation, kindness, love, fellowship, hope, despair. The old forces still stalk the land. We invent things… then decide the way we did things in the past were better, often because they were.
I’m rambling now; thoughts passing by repeatedly. I don’t know any more if they are connected — I’m just lighting on each one in turn.
This doesn’t mean we should cling to possessions no matter what. My family used to collect books, cameras, postcards, cat ornaments, Piggin ornaments, teddy bears, model cars… We also used to get into hobbies like silk painting, machine knitting, cross stitch, beadwork and more. Stuff built up around us and became a burden.
We made serious moves to declutter. The house is emptier but feels easier to clean and move around in. Things are easier to find. I remember a few items with regret and nostalgia, but in general there’s nothing I miss or would have back. I wish we had never accumulated so much stuff — it sat around for years and got in the way! Wasted space, wasted money, wasted energy.
We are more cautious buyers these days. The things we keep are those we really love or appreciate. Like everyone, we are limited… limited in energy, scope, memory, appetite, patience and time.
I’m not sure what the world would be like if there were no limits in what we could have, do or remember! That sounds like a dream come true, but if nothing was fresh and new any more, imagine the boredom. It’s nice for things (and living beings) to constantly renew; not just corporeal forms but also minds and personal experience — for young lambs to be born for whom the world is still a shining wonder. For those of us who have lived some time, forgetting may have its issues, but it’s also a part of healing.
Perhaps, instead of grieving after what we have lost, we should look forward to whatever might still come into our lives; new loves we don’t yet know… even if it’s only more space and greater peace, or a more unpredictable and adventurous life.