One of the more positive aspects of the past few months has been the solitude. As someone who loves the excitement of always having something to do or someone to see, finding myself in the company of my own thoughts has been surprisingly liberating.

It has been just over three months since my mother passed away, and although the recovery has been slow and the grief constant, the world continues to spin at it’s incredible pace. The life around you continues on, with or without your participation. At some point, you have to make peace with the past and cut yourself loose from your psychological anchors.

Of the many lessons that death has taught me, the most enduring (and perhaps most tautological) has been this: that life goes on until it doesn’t. I went to a spoken word poetry event last night (the Rising Voices Poetry Slam in Auckland) and remember vividly a young girl who, carrying a genetic defect that cuts her life expectancy well short of her peers, spoke about what it means to her to live. Most of us think about life in terms of time, but how should we measure a life when time is not on your side?

I have also come to realise that loss is much more common than we think. Some losses scar; others pass us by unnoticed. I have a theory that opportunity always comes hand-in-hand with loss. The gain of something new, such as a new job or an opportunity to do something that you’ve never done before, comes with it the loss of what is familiar, comfortable and secure. Loss isn’t always a negative thing – the idea of swapping what is known for the unknown can be exhilarating. But the loss is always there and something that we should acknowledge; too often we get blind-sighted by the shiny and the new that we forget what we are letting go.

And the final thought I had this week is about giving. I never really thought I had anything valuable to give until I realised that it is often the accumulation of many small things – a smile, a story and an unexpected experience that  we share with someone else – that can lead to something of remarkable impact. I’ve found myself, rather accidentally, as a support to people I never realised I was helping. The belief that we have something to give both anchors us and also sets us free.

[A beautiful example of spoken word. My favourite line: “… there is nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shore line, no matter how many times it is sent away.”]


One thought on “Solitude

  1. Ah, Mr Afremov’s work. I always like how he uses such bold colours to portray the light in the atmosphere and how it is reflected in dark surfaces. Your mother may be lost to you, but she’ll live on: her life will surely be reflected in how you live your own from now on. Just like the lights in Mr Afremov’s paintings, life never truly fades, it just gets refracted through another medium.

    Life and death is one of the major themes I’ve been developing in the novel I’m writing on the side, so it’s quite precious to me.

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