What is living but an ongoing lesson in loss? From your childhood pet hamster to the elder’s long parade of those who left before, loss is as irrevocable as death and taxes. But where is the school curriculum to prepare us, to guide us, to help us navigate the trodden paths of perpetual farewells? Our refusal to look loss in the face is a big part of our denial of life, our habit of building a fortress around the heart for protection, our daily decisions to go to the bright-lit shopping malls to avoid the darkness that accompanies losing the people and things we have loved.
Some cultures recognize the necessity to grieve and also celebrate, with long, elaborate funerals that involve weeping, dancing, singing and more, with ample time to go to the depths and reach for the heights. Other cultures (ours?) schedule it in between appointed business meetings and after the short requisite moment of somber reflection, people run for the door to get back to business as usual. Not a good thing. And telescoping out from the personal to the collective, a huge part of the ongoing presence of history’s specter of genocide, slavery, oppression, injustice, our refusal to own the horror, to mourn properly, to take the time to feel it down to the bones.
Loss doesn’t only mean death of our loved ones or the end of relationships or children moving off to college or parents to the senior home. It can mean the face of the city once loved (Damn you, Sales Force Tower!!), the loss of civil discourse, of just politics, of culture and community. Or maybe the loss of a sustainable planet?
From that sobering thought comes the reason I’m writing this. I looked in the mirror today and saw that my eyebrows are pretty much gone. Or so white you can hardly see them. Ha ha! Fussing over diminishing eyebrows? Well, loss is loss, no matter what the scope or size. Goodbye, old eyebrow friends. Thanks for all the years.
And now on to the day.