N Touch
Tuesday 10 December 2019
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Commentary

On loss and belonging

Death walked in, emptied a space, shook a life loose, shook up everyone else and left the scent of burnt wood and ghee, and the sight of ash grey remnants of a body that once was, now indiscernible from the ingredients that aided in its disposal.

At the end this is our physical essence – ashes – a combination of human parts and other ingredients. Some of this essence, drifts off on a light breeze over the ocean where the last rites were performed. The body now deconstructed – light grey flakes, that neutral colour – in a sense, is what we always were, neither white, nor black, neither this nor that.

I sat in my car earlier this week at the funeral of a friend’s father, looking at cars passing by while the proceedings were taking place. Under the white tents time had stopped. The movement on the main road – the car horns, the ambulance that passed by, siren blaring – felt hushed. I thought about that loss, about past losses and about impending losses.

Funerals always lead me to re-evaluation – re-evaluation of the meaning of relationships – relationships with people and relationship with self. Inevitably relationships that extend outward always circle back to the self. That’s why I suppose a line that I saw earlier this week – choose your echo – vibrates through my skin.

Pacing from living room to kitchen, I was attempting to flesh out "loss" when it occurred to me, "how do you define loss?" What is this idea that we call loss?’ I asked my partner who smiled and paused to consider the question.

The burning pyre is a point of focus. We all stare. I stare and look past the flames. At the funeral we all experience the loss in different degrees, even those not connected to the departed because we have all felt loss in some form and it is that memory that is triggered.

We are all built to connect, whether we connect with people or nature, God or self, we connect. Break down this construct of our lives bit by bit and we shall see that connection – that state of "me" in relation to "them", or "me together with X", or us and how we all interact – drives our responses to people, events and ideas. Responses are based on our degree of connection with. So some people feel more strongly about certain issues than others because their level of emotional investment and connection with, is higher than another.

My partner, returning to the question at dinnertime said,

“I thought about the question and I think that loss is defined by our level of commitment to the relationship isn’t it? Your sense of loss of a "friendship" is not the same as that person’s sense of loss. So to answer your question, it really is defined by your level of investment. And we feel a sense of loss because it’s an opportunity that’s no longer there, to share experiences.’

"Yes, but what kind of connection is it then if the level of investment wasn’t deep? And furthermore, what opportunity are you talking about then? Because if a relationship can suddenly, without any explanation end, then what opportunity am I really being robbed of. That ‘friend’ wasn’t even invested in the first place. So it’s an illusion then on my end isn’t it?" I said.

“Yes, but it is still sharing right, even if you were the one more deeply invested?”

"I suppose," I replied, feeling an aha! moment beginning to pour in.

Once again, I think about the issues that we face as a nation and the truth is, that as long as we as citizens do not feel a deeper connection to our environment, our own safety and our rights, and begin creating the changes that we wish to see, until then, we shall continue to romance our despair. The way I see it we are all in an abusive relationship, one that has become a habit. And although we know that this is an unhealthy relationship, it is familiar and familiarity feels like a deep connection, an addiction almost. It prevents us from seeing past what has been our desperation to protect and preserve what is "ours". And so, until such time that we decide that enough is enough, and give ourselves another chance at writing our own story as citizens of this land, we shall continue to occupy the land as foreigners, hoping that the next administration does right by us.

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