Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A Matter of Death and Life

The past weekend has been a roller-coaster, and surviving it still makes me dizzy. The wise maintain that the actual business of living may take only a few minutes, but that's time enough to reel through the entire stretch of emotions our species is subject to, and this past weekend has proved this wisdom indubitably. I cannot remember another time when the simultaneous immensity of life and death has dawned on me to this extent.

It began with a chance remark from an old friend expressing desolation at the sudden death of another friend. I still am unable to believe it: the friend who has passed away was not sick, not much older than I, and the unexpected nature of her passing has left confusion, disbelief, and fear in its wake. The memorial service was very touching, and her bereaved family deported themselves with admirable grace and dignity. However, as I stood in that crowded room, brimming with mourners, I could see most of us wore a dazed look, as though we were actors forced into an unrehearsed scene, in a world where we don't speak the language fluently. I could not believe that the service would ever end, until she'd walk in, setting the tilted world aright; I could believe less that after it ended, a little hour, long eternities later, we did something completely ordinary, and drove home, stopping for gas on the way.

Devastating as this experience was, the weekend was not over, and the roller coaster ride was only half way done. The next morning, I got a phone call from Des: the youngest among us had just decided on a life-partner, and the family was buzzing with excitement and joy on facebook! Everybody had an opinion about when the wedding should be, who'd attend it, where they'd stay, what websites would have the best fare, and inexorably, the wheel of time trundled on, uncaring of its effect on its riders. We all look forward to a joyful expansion of our tribe, and we can't wait to welcome our new relatives we haven't yet met. The possibilities shine in our imagination, of the inevitable laughter, celebration, and reaffirmation all beginnings promise.

I know time, routine, and new concerns shall dull the lessons this weekend has brought home so dramatically to me, but I hope this entry shall serve as an indelible reminder of keenly, intimately experiencing joy and sorrow within the span of a couple of days.

I also know I shall need to perch at the edge of the ocean and land to actually evaluate and imbibe the inexplicable insanity, to turn it into some hard nugget of usable matter. The only lesson I can realise through today's haze of emotional exhaustion, is that neither life, nor death await; in the end, one is left at the edge of a precipice, given a moment to feel, understand, and internalise the familiar behind, the unknown vastness before and beyond, and then either pulled back or pushed forward, because no space may remain still or stagnant for longer than a moment.


  1. Wonderful words. Knowing that life is so hopelessly constant is, ironically, hard to remember at times. I was also reminded of this just last night. I will explain more the next time I see you.


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