Consolation Prize

collage by Kiddo

collage by Kiddo

Loss transforms the chemistry of our lives in ways that are difficult to understand or even really recognize, but one of the more egregious changes is my thorough loss of control.

I never actually had any control over my life, the people in it, the places and surroundings. That is and always was the reality. Control is a delusion granted to me because of my privilege. Privilege that I had enough to eat every day as a child, that my life and security were not in imminent danger, that I had full mobility. The delusion of control fogs my vision and turns me into the sun center. I’m the main character of my life; things will certainly work out for me, right? When great loss happens, the illusion that I have any control over anything or anyone in my life absconds.

I am left with a lucidity that comes from understanding I am human and I will die, that everyone I love is human and will die. That clarity, as you may already know, is not a burden. Quite the opposite: it is freeing. Contemplating death is a common Buddhist practice meant to help the practitioner open to the life available to them. It’s not a meditation to instill fear and torture, it is meant to bring me to the present, real moment.

The clarity of loss is freedom from giving a fuck about most things. It’s a shift that highlights what Matters in my life. That might sound trite, perhaps because it’s a truth. The high-pitched striking clarity that happened directly after losing my Dad faded a bit — life and its petty dramas popped back up here and there — but the significance that loss articulated still defines my lens.  

If I could trade that clarity for my parents, I would. But I don’t have control so I take the consolation prize.