The Desiderata Part III: The End of the World
I was driving around town running errands on a beautiful morning not too long ago. I had all of the windows down and the music up as my SUV slithered its way around town. It had started out as a bit stressful as I awoke to an email saying that I owed past due on some books I had forgotten to turn in. They were quite late and I must admit I had completely forgotten them on my desk at the office. I scrolled through the list of books I owed for to the total. I was shocked. At most I thought it was going to be 60 dollars. I was wrong.
It was $850.
I immediately jumped out of bed, took a shower, and rode off to return the books. I was in luck because it turns out the librarian was in a good move and waived the astronomic fee. I was also quite proud when I didn’t have to pay for parking either. I remember thinking how lucky I was and how great of a day it was beginning to be. I probably should have played the lottery.
I rented a few movies and headed home. The wind blew through, cool and dry. I felt sheer joy at such a beautiful day.
Just down the street from the rental store is a cemetery. It is quiet and solemn, much like any cemetery should be. Quaint yet incredibly close to civilization. This spot of peace in the middle of organized chaos. I came to the stop light next to the cemetery and my manic joy was halted.
In the cemetery, I saw a large, blue tent and people were lined up around a large chasm with displaced earth just beside it. The awaited the family or maybe they had already left. I was witnessing the beginning or ending of something. Never the middle.
The light turned green and I drove home. The rest of the day was unremarkable. I drank a glass of wine, watched a movie, went to dinner with a friend, and called it a night. A nice, peaceful day, really. Yet, as I always do, I lingered on that cemetery.
I had this song by Skeeter Davis stuck in my head. “End of the World”. It is a great and somewhat haunting track. As with most music it is filled with metaphor and I truly love that. It is about a young woman losing the love of her partner.
“Why do the birds go on singing? / Why do the seas rush to shore,” the siren asks in her mellow voice.
I thought about that hole in the ground. I thought about a family. I thought about a church. I thought about everyone crying. I thought about flowers and a casket. I thought about all of this. I knew all of this.
“Don’t they know it’s the end of the world?”
In a way, it was the end of the world for that family. This person that meant so much to these people is just gone. A light in a room of candles that is snuffed out. The room dims just a bit. It is the cessation of a life with this individual in it. You have to avoid the rooms where they lived in because it is too much. You know they are gone yet their Facebook page still lives on. Pictures of themselves with others. That is over. No more pictures. The world as you knew it with this loved one in it is gone. It is, in a sense, the end of the world. At least the world you create. This place made of so much tangible. An amalgamation of molecules that gather in a way that you love each one and wish you could have them all back. Those cells divide and come back. That smile. Those eyes. That laugh. All gone from this world you now inhabit. Everything about them now begins with “Remember when…”
The same thing happens at the severing of anything. The death of a loved one or a pet. The end of a relationship or an occupation. These disasters tear through our reality and leave us devastated.
“It ended when you said goodbye.”
We are strong.
We are resilient.
We pick up the pieces and move on. We learn to live in the absence of that which we have lost. We live in this brave new world as best we know how.
However, I must contradict my own logic. I never remember anyone whom I have lost. You can’t remember something when you don’t lose it. The storms don’t matter much when your foundation is strong. I try to remember all of those things that we shared, good and bad. I don’t remember those that are gone from my new world because you can only remember what you have forgotten. They live on symbolically in the way they affected me.
They stay alive in you until you let them go. After all, you have that ability to shape and mold this new place.
It may be the end but it is also the beginning.