A Thin Veil
“It is Glory to have been tested, to have had our little quality
and to have cast our little spell. A second chance, that’s the delusion……” (henry james)
During one of my favorite groups a patient who is well analyzed and a very capable man
said, “the one thing that we know about going down hill is that we can expect to pick up speed.”
It was a profound remark in light of the fact that we were discussing dementia
at the time. As i thought about this statement it occurred to me there are many
life cycles to which this can apply.
Life goes by awfully quickly. And the older that we get the more aware we become that life
is painfully short. And when ever we start to go downhill, we become crucially aware that if
we don’t apply the brakes we will burst right through this thin veil of life and end up on some
other side where looking back appears to be impossible.
It started me thinking about anticipation and the way that some of us spend life looking
forward to tomorrow as if we expect it to be something other than today. “That’s the illusion there
never was to be but one,” as Henry James continued.
There is no life than is different from this life.
Life “is” what it is. Life is a force, a vitality, a kind of drive that carries us and pulls us and pushes us
in various directions, but always forward, until it begins to de-compensate…then it’s all downhill.
There is no reverse as we go bursting forth through the veil that hides the other side.
What this tells me, is that the most important thing that I can do for myself, and by extension
for my patients and loved ones, is to remind them to slow down. What’s the hurry, you do know
how this ends, don’t you? That’s right. It ends.
To think that any of us want to speed up this process is absurd. We do not know what we are asking
for when we say hurry up to anything. Time is all that we have. And Time is constructed by hu-mans
to remind us that there is no infinity. And, if by chance there is an infinity it has nothing to do
with this life. This life is finite. Burst through that veil and what we know of life is over, finished, done
for good. If there is another something, if there is a kind of re-organization to our cellular matter
it will not be one that we can bring our consciousness to. Our consciousness ends with the end of this life.
To ask God, or the Universe to speed things up for us is very foolish. So the next time that you find
yourself too busy or too important to deliberately pay attention to your consciousness, remember that
this consciousness that you take for granted will some day cease to exist and when your cellular matter
becomes a part of a glowing sunset, or it becomes the colors of a new dawn, or a piece of velvet moss covering
a woodland grove, you will not see it once you are it. We see the dawn, only until we become it. There will be no
gratification to being a dawn. You will not know you have been transformed. And even as a million
school age children gaze in awe at the brilliant colors of life; when you can no longer gaze, all those eyes
upon your scattered matter will not thrill you a bit.
So, grab your consciousness and go gaze upon something that sends awe through your life while you
still have a life to send awe through. The rest of that wonderful line by Henry James goes like this:
We work in the dark, we do what we can. We give what we have.
Our doubt is our passion and our passion is our task.
The rest, is the madness of Art.