Jan 1, 2012

The Beginning of a New Year & Thoughts on Dying

The neighborhood is rejoicing again as another year is ushered in.  There are bright lights in the street and people are joking and laughing over the frenetic, deafening beats of latin dance music wafting in on the wind.   They're having fun and I woefully wish I shared the sentiment.   The walls of my house are vibrating.   At least I can enjoy it by proxy.  Actually, it does feel good to know people are enjoying themselves. 

This holiday season has been unduly challenging.  There's this pensive, almost morose, (dare I say depressing?) cloud that's been hanging around me.  I've been able to shake it for brief periods, but then it returns stronger---like ever increasing waves of nausea when one has the flu.   I finally realized it wasn't going to be ignored away,  so I decided to confront it head on---party season or not.   There are times when one's psyche insists on attention, and this has been one of those times.   Soooo, despite admonitions from friends about the negative effects of being alone during the holidays,  I refused several invitations and  instead curled up in my PJs on the bed for most of the time.   Critical parent tapes have been guilting me for my lack of productivity,  but the emotions won out.   And I think I reached a breakthrough just after the new year rang in.

It's not easy adapting to forced retirement.  Even though I considered retiring at age 62,  I hadn't resolved that I was going to do it.  I figured maybe I'd decrease my hours but continue working.  Although it's been nice not stressing about doing a good job for a change,  the absence of one creates it's own identity crisis.  Then, when one embraces the identity issue, it's only a small leap from there to the life-purpose issue, and from the life-purpose issue to the age issue, and from the age issue to the waiting-to-die issue.  Intellectually, I understand all the psychosocial aspects of this life stage.   I can cite counter arguments as well.  But that doesn't prevent the experience from surfacing, like it or not.  

Which brings me back to the whole "dying" thing. ---In my musings,  I've seen myself as an airplane in a holding pattern, awaiting the control tower's command to land.   And I've imagined myself a forgotten toy on the top shelf of an outgrown nursery.   I've even visualized myself on my deathbed, somewhere between consciousness and death.  I've worried about whether or not it will be painful. 

I think the Lord blessed me tonight with an insight I could never have drawn on my own.   It came to me as the fireworks were going off everywhere...   I flashed back to how terrified I was about giving birth to my son when the due date was approaching.  I worried about whether the birth would go well, about how much pain it would bring to each of us, about whether he would be born healthy and strong, and I even worried about whether he would somehow be dissatisfied having me as his mother.  Then I realized the process happened anyway, and it was beyond my control.    We both got through that birth, and it opened me to a much richer experience of unparalleled love.   In retrospect there's little memory of pain,  absolutely no regret, and only reward and joy.    Perhaps death is a little like that...