Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Place, A Time: A Grief Expressed

It's a strange thing about life. People are more grieved by its loss than they are amazed by its presence. Oh, sure, we are all touched and flushed with joy when a baby is born. But the joy of life quickly loses its shine, so to speak. We begin to take for grated the very fact that we wake up each morning, breathing, moving, able to choose what we are going to do for the rest of the day.

Most of the universe, as far as we know, doesn't do that. It doesn't choose to go to work or stay home, have cereal or toast (or both) for breakfast, to bring our lunch or to stop a McDonald's. The rest of the universe just is. It is pushed around by cause and effect, falling or rising as required by its properties and the forces that play upon it.

Now there are some people that say that life is just like that. They claim that there is nothing special about it, that ideas of choice are illusory because we are exactly like the rest of the universe. We are merely parts in a grand machine slowly grinding its way through time and space, generating then discarding components as it pushes its way blindly along.

It has been said more than once that we are like the eddies in a stream of matter and energy which momentarily coalesce into a human being, then are dispersed again.

How can life have any meaning in this kind of universe? How can it matter whether we live or die, whether we are kind or cruel, virtuous or vicious? If there is no choice, there is no action, there is no guilt, there is no sense in anger or love or fear or joy.

But, and maybe this is simply mass psychosis, but we feel that this simply isn't so. Life matters, but not life at any cost. Death is to be avoided, but not under every circumstance. Virtue, vice, love, anger, joy, grief, they all matter and have their place. An appointed place. Something, somehow, somewhere, outside of all of these things, stands before them all and gives them all importance and a relative place to stand.

Life is good, if lived in the correct way, but it may be sacrificed for a greater cause. Death is the end of life, and should be shunned, unless it is embraced to create greater opportunities for life. Love, in moderation and focussed on worthy objects and people; anger, righteous indignation expressed in action and resistance to tyranny; joy in peace and laughter and in the presence of the rightness of things; and grief, subdued, releasing the pain of unexpressed confusion, of irredeemable loss, to capture and hold in one's hands the chaos that boils around us in the rest of the universe while we try to keep order in the rest of our lives.

So grief, like all the rest, has its place and its day. And that day is today.