Monday, September 14, 2015

Word of the Week - 80

 "The Old Red Door" by David Lee Thompson.
Word of the Week:  CLOSURE

Based on its standard usage, especially in tv news stories, I nominate closure for myth status.  The states in which humans are left following death, illness, trauma and loss in its infinite forms do not lend themselves to tidy, invisible restoration.  The frayed ends do not, in my experience, reweave themselves, things torn asunder do not simply reattach.  What remains is not closure but a process of evolution, alchemy really, in which we move from being one thing to another.  We finds what ways we can to grow past the wound.  It will never not leave a scar.  That is not a mistake, that is order.

I believe well-intentioned, giving them the benefit of the doubt, people actually bully others into feeling they are doing it wrong, insisting that by some arbitrary time they should have reached "closure" with anything sad, often horrific.  Unlike the previously mentioned news stories, I do not believe that a jury verdict, a death sentence, or an execution will ever bring to an end the sorrow and suffering resulting from criminal acts.  A sense of revenge is not a substitute for diminished grief.

These musings spring from a post seen a few days ago, suggesting that if we can't have the illusive closure, we can learn to move on.  To me, that is as good as it will get.  Not to be mired in sadness at the same sharp level where we began is progress.  Life alters us, in its high moments and its low.  My familiar theme of living adaptively certainly applies to that which leaves us feeling broken and lost.  Visualizing recovery from physical injury gives us a model of the multiple steps, the duration of healing to get us back on, for instance, our feet.  And when therapy and exercises are completed, we may limp, we may not walk at all, yet we are not where we started.

To the best of my ability, I assume each of us is doing as well as we can, however imperfect that may appear.  How can we possibly know what motivates another, what kind or insidious voices whisper suggestions that might even make sense in the moment?  How can we know until it happens to us which events will take all the starch out of our spines and our spirits?

We will not, we cannot evolve until we learn to be much more forgiving with ourselves and our processes, until we come close to being kind to each other, no matter what.  There will always be differences between us.  We will always appear in the mirror as flawed, forgetting that flawed is human, the only material we have to work with.

I think my greatest disagreement with commonly held beliefs about closure is that it comes from somewhere outside of us, as with criminal proceedings where the jury awards closure to the victim's family.  I think every bit of it is a deeply interior process.  We are the almost unbearably slow train that brings us back to abandoned parts of ourselves.  We must have patience beyond where we once thought patience ended.  Everything is about becoming, to which there is no limit.


37paddington said...

yes to everything you say here, and say so beautifully.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Angella - Thank you. We need, I believe, so many more ways to be loving with ourselves. So much joy, so much sorrow in one limited lifetime. I want to see joy win. Have a lovely week. xo

Kass said...

"...unbearably slow train." - YES.

Kindness being somewhat of a solution. - YES.
A couple of years ago, someone said and did something so hurtful, I was having a hard time getting over it, so I decided to do anonymous acts of kindness until my mind was no longer occupied with my perceived offense. It worked.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Kass - What a perfect solution, wise and inspired. It is true that when we can't soothe our own pain, getting out of ourselves always makes things better. The truth of that tells us so much. xo

Melissa Green said...

Yes, Kass, an inspired and wise solution. When the wound that has been dealt by another threatens to fester, or we can't keep from fussing with it, as in the place in our mouths where a tooth has been removed. Random or purposeful acts of kindness to others is a way of breaking the cycle of being hurt/continuing to ruminate which continues to aggravates it/the wound hurting more and more.

Closure is a bullying word, Marylinn, a bullying concept. There is no time frame on healing. It takes as long as it takes, we each have our own pace and gait in moving forward, but I don't believe we can leave it behind, whatever 'it' is. It's a spiral--we do return to the places of sorrow, and over time, the sorrow may hurt less, but it doesn't disappear. We may come to a place where days and weeks and then months and years go by when it isn't a deep and present grief, but 'moving forward' will always lead us to new places where the old places are like a palimpsest and surprise us first with their presence, with the re-awakened pain (be it slight or less than), with their continuing to exist when we'd imagined them gone entirely.

It's life--nothing can be outrun--perhaps outgrown like a childhood pinafore, but ours just the same, and though it doesn't fit as it once did, it still is ours.

Marylinn Kelly said...

Melissa - Do you think that one day they ("they") may stop trying to make life a one-size-fits-all business and slink quietly off to leave us to our very individual processes? A girl can dream. The standardization of human life, what a tedious business. Yes, that little pinafore IS mine, I know it well. I must have grown for it no longer fits as it once did. xo