Ambigamy

Insights for the deeply romantic and deeply skeptical

ThanksGrieving: Cutting & Appreciating Our Losses

How to be happy for what you've got and for what you had before you lost it.

Thanksgiving is like the music paused in a game of musical chairs, everybody dropping into the laps they have accumulated over the year and years. Some years the laps are more ample than others, glorious family reunions, partners, kids. Other years are sparser leaving us wondering whether there are laps enough left for us or are we losing the musical chairs game.

A pre-Thanksgiving toast then to the coming and going of laps. I've had extraordinary bounty, more than my share, and some fallow years too. They all come back to me with the light, smells and anticipation of the season.

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When our glass becomes less full, we have a choice to try to refill it with what we had in there, to try to fill it with something else, or to try accept it as full enough, say by conceiving of the glass as shorter than it was. 

Trying to refill it with what we had means holding what we had as a reason we should still have it.  “Because I had it before I should have it now.”

Trying to refill it with something else means holding out for the same standards but accepting that we can't have what we had. "Because I had it before, I must have something else now. 

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Accepting it as half full means holding what we had before as a reason not to expect the same now. “Because I had it before, I don’t need it now.”

Lifelong, when we experience setbacks we choose among these three options.  There are purist philosophies that say always hold out for what you want and others that say always let go and accept what you get. I say it’s best to wonder when to hold on and when to let go and if letting go, of what, the thing you lost or the standard you had.

In the long run we eventually have to let go.  I look at very old people and know that what contentment they have comes from lowering expectations as options dwindle. At best, by the end the glass has to be stubby enough that it feels full even though it’s mostly drained.

Depressing thoughts but since I’m not there yet, I’m thankful and here’s my song to prove it.

http://www.mindreadersdictionary.com/Jersongs/Downhillfromhere.mp3

Downhill From Here

Sure your things are sagging


You can see you're in decline


A glimpse into the mirror shows


The ravages of time

Just remember that compared to now


the future's looking sour


And looking back in decades


this will have been the finer hour.

 

At the rate that things are going


yes our future looks austere


Cheer up ‘cause it's downhill from here.

 

If you notice your ability


To jump and skip is slipping


And much of your agility


Is going, don't be trippin'

Compared to 20 years from now


You're agile and you're well


Viewed from future wheelchairs


Today you're a gazelle.

 

At the rate that things are going


Yes, our future looks austere


Cheer up ‘cause it's downhill from here.

 

I'm a forward thinking pessimist

It makes my days much brighter


Tomorrow will be heavier


today is therefore lighter

Life's decline is certain


Of what's left this time's the best


Enjoy it now it's bound to be


much better than the rest

 

If the crowd is suffocating you


in the rat race to success


and your edge is always slipping


and you cannot take the stress

Just remember that the pile of product's


only getting deeper


And your grandkid's competition

will certainly be steeper.

 

At the rate that things are going


our futures looks austere


Cheer up ‘cause it's downhill from here.

Jeremy Sherman is an evolutionary epistemologist studying the natural history and practical realities of decision making.

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