It’s been a season of endings. In December, I witnessed the sacred and horrifying final hours of my grandmother’s life on earth in her bedroom alongside my mother and my sister. In April, our rambunctious and loving 6.5 year old chocolate lab awoke one morning with a ruptured spleen from an undetected mass leaving us shocked at our need to say goodbye less than three hours after the discovery. Just over a week ago, my oldest daughter walked across a stage in an oversized hunter green robe with a matching cap to receive her diploma from the hands of her own father. Her graduation and transitioning into adulthood is a kind of ending too.
The weight of all of these different kinds of endings, stacked atop one another, has undeniably rested directly upon my chest, making it difficult to move forward or backward or anywhere at all. It functions mostly as an immovable anchor that daily awaits my acknowledgement, my respect for its presence, and my deep and questioning curiosity. Somedays the road to curiosity leads to understandable sadness, other days it ushers me toward gratitude. Today I’ve discovered a more analytic space of reflection around the neuroscience of endings. I’m wondering if part of what creates the felt sense of circumstances being surreal in the midst of endings and transitions is the neurological disruption to deeply established patterns of recognition. Neural pathways that have been reinforced for years are suddenly, or sometimes gradually, no longer reality and our brain must build new pathways.
This morning I’m curious about our brains. Yesterday I longed for a new puppy to love. Tomorrow I might struggle with existential questions about meaning and purpose and time. We can be such fearful creatures sometimes – creatures that try to cut and run from the anchors of our lives. That never seems to really work the way we think or hope it will. Facing the weight each day is what loosens it’s anchoring paralysis. It’s that practice that frees me up enough to also still play, to be present, to be human.