Friday, 15 September 2017

The Kicked Down Sand Castle Effect

Imagine you are a kid down at the beach building an elaborate sand castle. Your family gets there early in the day and in between swims you build this great structure.

You spend hours between swims and a bit of belly boarding adding to this castle.

Then someone (like your mean brother) comes along and kicks it over and you're in tears about it.

Depending when it happens in the day (say early) you may start again and build on that foundation and make a better castle. If it was nearly time to go home you may just give up and walk away, being mad at your brother all the way home (and perhaps for some time to come).

This is how I have come to currently understand my own grief at the loss of my wife.

The metaphor is not too far from the truth because we are all only here on this "beach" for an amount of time. We eventually "go home" and must leave behind all we have made here. Yet when we are building our sand castles we are not thinking of "when we leave" we are absorbed in the the thing we are making, in making it better, in making it "just right". Sometimes we've only seen the sand castles of others, and we shape our own on that. Other times we've also had a little experience in building them in previous summers when we were younger, so we can do a better job.

Although we know that we must eventually leave them, we may harbor the idea that it will be there again tomorrow (sometimes it is). When the time comes to pack up and go home many will plead for a little more time, no matter we always look back at what we made as we are leaving the beach. But if we have it leveled down before our eyes it somehow hurts more, because we are attached to it and because it seems so unfair.

Past the initial shock and spending time in reflection (not just being upset, although there is surely a time for doing only that)  I came to see that without Anita, all that I'd built was smashed and meaningless. I soon also saw that my time on the beach was drawing to a close and there seemed less point in trying to rebuild.

Unlike sand castles much of what we have in life is needed to live comfortably; the houses we live in, the furniture we use, the stuff we have. Much of it is needed to make our lives comfortable, easier and doing things more convenient.

I don't believe I have enough time to ever make a castle again but I'm trying now to make something. Its not easy and I'm always struck with "what's the fucking point" ... I regularly think "fuck, can I just go home early". Of course some do just that.

As I've reflected earlier this happened to me at an awkward time, too old to really ever be able to build a decent sand castle again, too young to just "go home early".

So now I've bought another house, in a different place. There is much that needs doing to it, but its actually livable right now. Its small enough that I don't need to attempt anything grand, but enough work to keep me "on task" for some years.



Many times I feel like its all too hard, and I wonder "what the fuck have I done". But having kicked the can down the road for some 5 years now, I have decided its time to try. Its a total break from where I've been and in some ways like nothing I've ever done before.

Lets see what I make of it.

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