I read a book last week called The Heart Does Break, a collection of essays about grief and grieving. The collection was edited by George Bowering and his partner Jean Baird, whose daughter died suddenly. The broad spectrum of the essays; dead mothers, dead fathers, dead children, dead siblings — made the book especially meaningful. We all die. Slowly or quickly, expectedly or suddenly. We are all on a moving sidewalk to nothing. Which is OK and awful, depending on where your brain is at on a given day.
Anyway, the other day I was driving home from somewhere, alone, thinking about how when I finally remember to make a doctor’s appointment, I will surely be diagnosed with a sleeping, rare disease that will kill me in the next six to eight months. And instead of casting this maudlin thought aside, I went with it.
You know how sometimes it just feels good/bad to torture yourself with horrible thoughts? No, really, do you? Or am I the only one.
“Snap out of it,” I said to myself in the car, because I needed to make a left turn and I would rather die in six to eight months from a rare disease than instantly, in traffic, two blocks from home.
It felt somehow necessary and right to indulge in mourning myself. Of course when we die, it is the people who are left who mourn us. But up until the day we die, we must mourn ourselves. I mourn the eventual loss of me. Not all the time. Right now, for example, I am trying to tie this semi-dark post into a bow and somehow link it to today’s prompt, which was not “death” but “aging.”
But isn’t that aging? A long, drawn-out mourning of our selves? It isn’t a bad thing. It isn’t like we are sad all the time that we aren’t what we were, but we acknowledge it. We can accept and love who we are, while still mourning who we were and wondering who we will be, right? That’s what I mean.
Here is my governing principle. I call it the “Like It Or Not” (LION) principle. I have recently started applying it to those aspects of parenting that I can not or should not attempt to control, to great effect.
For example, if I harass Trombone while he is in the bathroom, he takes 15 minutes in the bathroom. If I ignore Trombone while he is in the bathroom, he takes 15 minutes in the bathroom. End result: kid takes forever in the bathroom. However: if I ignore Trombone while he is in the bathroom, I am much happier and can enjoy my meal.
Following this logic, struggling and fighting against my appearance changing as I age is the same as fighting aging, isn’t it? I think it is. I mean, people dye their grey hair because they don’t want to look “old” right? And they don’t want to look old because they don’t want to think about their lives ending?
So if I fight aging, by dyeing and nipping and tucking and botoxing and generally attempting to present to the world a Person Who Is Frozen In Time At Age 40, I will still die. Today or next year or when I’m 88.
And if I don’t fight. If I just go grey, and get wrinkled, and develop saggy skin and have perpetual eye bags, I will still die. Today or next year or when I’m 88. (And I’m talking about typical aging, not bodies that crumble due to chronic illness or injury.)
But in the latter case, I will have more money and energy to spend on vacations and wine and good food and gifts for friends and books and pretty earrings and dog food for my dog. Up until the day I die; today or next year or when I’m 88.
You can call me lazy and cheap – and in a few years, you might even call me ugly! – for not applying eye cream every night, but I believe in the path of least resistance. If you are going to end up in the same location, regardless of effort expended, why not save your energy and enjoy the journey.
Also: Life is a Highway. And: Everybody’s Working for the Weekend. Plus: We Built This City On Rock And Roll.