Thursday, September 02, 2021

The Collapse LXXIX: Sorrow

25 March 20XX +1

My Dear Lucilius:

Today I was overcome by sorrow.

This occurs as it has been for some years now. I cannot really predict the periodicity or what triggers it. There is no seasonality, no particular sets of actions, no sentimental items, no random song or memory – nothing to draw a casual relationship. It just comes.

The initiating event this time was one of the more innocuous ones: While washing my dishes from breakfast I began thinking about dishes and life in the past.

I was the one that was responsible for dishes. That was my great contribution to the operation of the daily family unit. Everyone would bring their dishes back to the sink – or I would get them if I thought that they were lingering over dishes overmuch. I would either rinse them off and put them into the dishwasher or wash them down and put them into the drying rack. More than once I got ahead of the person using the dishes when they were not quite done with them and had to get another (actually, this was rather a frequent occurrence). Why, I would be asked, could I not just leave the dishes until we were done?

Because I truly hated to see dirty dishes.

I am not sure where this originally came from. It must have been growing up – I never remember a dirty dish being left in the sink overnight, and this came to be my own philosophy as well. So every night prior to going to bed, I would police the sink one last time.

And then I find myself today standing in the morning sun, washing a bowl and spoon with some warm water and a bit of soap.

Life can be cruel in this way Lucilius, cruel in ways that one cannot imagine on the other side of it.

Moments like this remind me of everything that is gone: the things that came unexpectedly like my wife’s cancer and ultimate death and the things that came indirectly, like the slow unraveling of my family that followed.

Compared to these, the complete unraveling of society almost seems an after thought.

This was not how it was meant to be. There were to be golden years and trips abroad and grandchildren and family reunions. All the things that one spends life working towards because that is what was supposed to happen.

Instead I find myself here, alone, my life mostly bounded by the acre that is my homestead. Those that depend on me – the rabbits, the quail, even the bees – are always glad to see me in their own fashion.

But it is never the same.

The moment passes – it always passes – and I will wipe my eyes again and make myself a cup of tea and sit in the quiet. It certainly does not change anything about my situation but in some way soothes the hurt.

But never heals it. Healing it is beyond anything on this Earth.

Your Obedient Servant, Seneca


  1. Anonymous4:29 AM


    According to the Yale Book of Quotations editor Fred R. Shapiro, the origin is attributed to writer and cartoonist Allen Saunders. A variation of the quote, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans,” was published in Reader's Digest in January 1957, when Lennon was 17."

    Life has a lot of surprises for us, some good, some bad. I don't know how many of my expectations have been dust binned over the years, but it is a lot.

    My consolations when these same thought hit me is things could be a lot worse.

    1. Anonymous - Things, at least here in the West, could always be a great deal worse for 90% of us.

      I think on the whole, most of us have had more expectations fall by the wayside than come to fruition.

  2. If it wasn't for disappointments, I wouldn't have any appointments.

    1. Lovely Just So! I am using this at dinner parties!

  3. "This was not how it was meant to be."

    I can't tell you how often I've thought, "Life didn't turn out like I expected it to."

    1. For me as well Kelly. Part of it is undoubtedly due to me and sometimes rather inflated views of how things should work, but some things are simply occurrences over which I had no control.

  4. Man plans, God laughs.

    1. Indeed Mike. I sometimes wonder if God simply shakes His head at our "plans" as well.


Your comment will be posted after review. If you could take the time to be kind and not practice profanity, it would be appreciated. Thanks for posting!