I look at her and I see her unfulfilled potential, her possible future… Am I the only one?
Others, they only see her past, the past she can no longer live up to… or the inevitable decay of her present, with nothing but more decay in the future.
But I see another future, an alternative ending to this story, still possible, still attainable — is it because I was the only one fully present with her when her husband died, and her heart broke open?
The only one to see another her in her time of tragedy and greatness, her naked Self, unshielded by pretences and defences?
I read recently (in Dr. Joe Dispenza’s “Breaking the habit of being yourself”) that most of our energy normally goes into maintaining this gap between who we are inside, and how we choose to present ourselves to the world — if this is so, she didn’t have enough energy then.
Nor does she now…
Back then, almost five years ago, she decided to close her heart again — this was her way to keep serving her family, or at least this was how she explained this choice. “It’s bad for children when they see grown-ups cry,” — she kept saying. She didn’t want to be a burden — and so she has been suppressing her grief with antidepressants, consciously distracting herself from it with computer games, eating her way into oblivion cake after cake after cake…
But she still doesn’t have the resources to maintain the proper “facade”, this carefully constructed interface with the world which we all have the unfortunate tendency to mistake for our “identity”.
The consequences of her moment-to-moment actions for her state of being are so immediately, so painfully transparent — there is no “mind” left to sustain the illusion of presence, the persona, the mask of humanhood, when she disappears from reality, her eyes empty.
Nor when she is back again, and once again I get a glimpse of this grander version of her I saw almost five years ago. It is now barely visible, barely there — as she herself is barely here, fizzling out…
This painful immediacy of being, this nakedness behind the decaying mask — is this, I wonder, what Boris Pasternak meant when he said that old age is Rome? If the world is a stage, then old age, like Rome, is not satisfied to see the actor perform, only to die?
It is our fast intent, — so says King Lear — to shake all cares and business from our age, conferring them on younger strength while we, unburdened, crawl toward death.
But it doesn’t work like this, as he is about to find out.
You cannot shake off the human condition, where change is the name of the game, and our only choice is between growth and decay. Old age doesn’t change this, I keep thinking — it only makes it harder to keep up the pretences, it only destroys the masks we hide behind.
Like in sharp, unflattering, black-and-white mirror, it shows us the naked reality of human condition… where “performance” is never enough, even if the world is a stage, and we are fit enough to act.
After all, someone had to see the potential for greatness in Lear for him to find his true humanity, having lost everything else…
And so I keep focusing my vision on her unfulfilled potential for growth, even if nobody else sees it.