Happy 100th post 🙂
In recent weeks I’ve been writing quite a lot about the harder or often ignored parts of life, particularly mortality and pain, and this essay as well is yet another foray into that – but this time, I’m delving into loss and its inevitability.
Loss is an unavoidable part of life. As I mentioned in my post on pain being a purifier, avoidance of pain is impossible, primarily because the loss of something of value is inevitable. Whether it be an inanimate object, a pet or a loved one, entropy and the law of thermodynamics will always catch up to it – things fall apart and wither away.
It’s also one of the hardest things to deal with in life – if not the hardest.
Anyone who has dealt with the loss of a loved one can likely attest to this. The pain of losing someone, whether in death or relationship breakdown, is a pain that is unlike any other in the fascinating process that is life. It has been written about in poetry, painted in art and told about in epics, and yet describing the experience of it is really not well understood concretely because it is largely ostensive. For the people who know it first hand, they get it.
There’s a hollowing out when you lose someone. It’s as if part of your soul is taken off you and placed into a bottle that is washed away into an endless ocean of tears and struggle. You can see it clearly, whether it be in the form of a scent, a touch, a sound or an experience – but no matter what you do, that bottled up part of your soul just drifts away into the horizon. Your memories are clear as day and all your senses tune into those memories, but there is no concrete “other” there to have anymore – it’s just empty.
It really is impossible to know it without having experienced it – but everyone does experience it eventually. But loss, like mortality and pain, is an important part of really placing your values and life into perspective.
Understanding the inevitability grants you access to the vitality within you because you start to chase things of importance to a much higher degree. It also allows you to cut down on wasteful spending, time wasting, etc.
It also really puts into perspective what is one of the highest values to all human living, and that is other people.
Now keep in mind, this does not mean all people. It’s important to understand that values are chosen, and if one values all people equally, then there is no meaning behind the value given. It’s a simple fact that you only value specific people, whether it be in romantic relationships, friendships, family, business, etc. Don’t lie to yourself believing all people are equal in value to you – it is simply not possible and untrue.
But I digress – people are far, far more valuable than the things we own, and things are almost always enhanced in pleasure when shared with others.
Consider why we share our work, art, successes and failures with our friends. Or why we hold our dearest memories usually with other people. It’s a simple fact that humans are social and socializing is incredibly important. It is by far the richest source of joy in human living, and some of the greatest works of art in history have been created in the name of other humans.
This does not mean that the loss of things is not painful – to lose anything of value hurts, but there is simply no comparison between an inanimate object and the loss of a loved one.
The harsh reality however is that by having others in your life, you are faced with that inevitability that someday they may disappear or in the long run, they will pass away, or you will first. There is simply no escaping of this fact, but it’s important to be incredibly lucid about it.
The reason it’s important is because while the sadness of that fact becomes apparent, it also gives you a proper view of how you see that relationship with those people. It gives you clarity on how important they are, and whether you ought to be prioritizing time more around spending it with them, or on your personal pursuits.
This doesn’t mean to sacrifice time spent on important, personal endeavors – understand that before one can fully appreciate friendships, sexual relationships, love, etc, one must care for themselves first. You cannot love others appropriately without first properly loving yourself. There are no buts here, because relying on others to make your life function is to become co-dependent.
The point is to celebrate your life with one another, and uplift it when support is needed. Co-dependency is unhealthy, it leads to the reliance of another person to keep you afloat. But co-operation, celebration and support are healthy and incredibly enriching.
The understanding that you will lose much of this enrichment as time goes by may be sad, but it also gives you the perspective you need to understand how much others mean to you – and it can give you the courage to let go of relationships that are damaging, as well as strengthen bonds that need strengthening. You only have so much time for it.
I think many people tend to assume that by being an individualist, it means going it alone forever and doing everything yourself. I’ve assumed this myself in the past, and it was because of betrayal in my own life. Loss and betrayal hurt.
But the reality is, when I look back, all the best moments of my life always had someone else in that moment. Someone I could share it with.
The best hiking trips I’ve had were alongside friends.
The best seaside dinners I’ve experienced were with lovers.
My biggest purchases were remembered not because of the thing, but because it was celebrated with good company.
Don’t make the mistake of going it alone. There is too much richness and life in the sharing of one’s life with others. You’ve only got one life to live, and only one to share.
Don’t let the most important people go, and let go of the one’s that block you from what’s important to you. The sadness when others leave is inevitable, but be glad that you spent the time to share the experience of living with someone you gave a damn about. Value your time.
Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.Albert Camus