The Ultimate Abandonment


I was thinking about my dwindling ‘expectations’ the other day. The gist was that in the end, or near the end, you lose not only the ‘more in the offing’ you’ve grown accustomed to all your life long, you also give up wanting more. As you finally realize that more is never going to be forthcoming ever again, you stop wanting it, and living without wanting  more or expecting more is a kind of dying. Is this dark or what?

Later, the next day, this: It’s not that you ‘give up’ wanting more. More it is that it abandons you. You just wake up one morning and notice that it is gone. What does this do to one’s psyche?  I’m wondering if the appearance of the lingering and pervading depression so characteristic of old age is a consequence of this abandonment.

Is this at root why old people reminisce so much, that because they have no future they turn their gaze rearward to reflect upon the past, because it is so intolerable to have no or not much of a future, that reminiscing is a way of coping with this depression, the more the more.

  1. #1 by Penny on September 14, 2013 - 12:02 pm

    I look at it a little differently, and it doesn’t seem dark to me. Dwindling expectations seems the same (or almost) as dwindling choices =dwindling decisions that need to be made. My life’s course is gradually collapsing from a complex map to a straight line, and the energy once devoted to finding my way can be spent on enjoying where I am, and making the most of the place where I am and the path that remains. And to enjoying the friends that I have and the people I meet.

    I guess it’s true that I think a lot about the past and that this is because the intense experiences from the past are more numerous than the ones I expect in the future. But also, perhaps, because fetching things out of short-term memory is getting harder, I do the easier thing, which is to (occasionally) wallow in long term-memories.

    I am not so sure that expecting less and wanting less is the ultimate abandonment. Losing or neglecting friends is what feels like the ultimate abandonment, and what constitutes a step toward dying.

    • #2 by macindog on September 15, 2013 - 4:59 pm

      Penny,
      Well said! I was especially pleased to receive and read your well crafted comment. “Oh, if only I could write as well as her,” I sighed to myself as I read and then reread it. As of now, I’ve stopped feeling sorry for myself long enough to compose a response: Two things occurred to me as I read your comment: that you are much younger than me, and that you take a more positive view of existence than I do. This is not to imply that I’m a pessimist or anything like that, for I am not—a bit of a stoic perhaps, but certainly not a pessimist. The point I was trying to make was that for me, in the past, each day would begin with an awareness of ‘more (of life’s bounty) to come’ and that in time this awareness became second nature to me, and so much so that it never occurred to me that it had an existence of its own, a lifespan of sorts, and that it too, like all other living things, would have been born at some time, would mature and then grow old, and then one day vanish. So the abandonment to which I refer is the vanishing of this ‘innate’ awareness. I just noticed one day that it was gone, that I no longer expected each day to consist to some extent of new experiences. The void its departure left behind was not suddenly filled with dread or depression or sorrow, or a sense of loss even. I just noticed that the light was no longer burning, that my life seemed a little less real, a little less immediate. Maybe it is that this awareness has been replaced with a kind of inner reflection, the kind that fostered the blog with which this thread commenced.

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