March 15, 2015
Yesterday was full of the frustrations of diminishment. I failed to order ink for the printer in a timely fashion, and as a result could not print tickets ordered on-line. I transposed numbers in a document resulting in inconvenient confusion to a number of people. I entered events in the wrong week on my appointment book with miserably time-wasting consequences for a number of people whom I love and value highly.
In contrast, yesterday brought good things, culminating with dinner out with my family who are visiting from out of town.
Before I dropped asleep last night, I revisited in my mind’s eye the delightful experience of dinner together—all of us grouped around the table, laughing, enjoying the food, talking, talking, and talking (some of us at the same time). I felt enormously grateful for the conscious, chosen effort these people make to come to me when I can no longer go to them. They chose—at high cost of time and energy—to have dinner with me. And then I thought—h-m-m. Diminishment?
While the diminishment process has a gravitas about it, dinner last night reminded me that this sober significance can also have an unexpected connection with joy.
At dinner we talked about the remarkable (and irreversible) changes that have resulted from development of technology. The younger members of the group were curious about my experience in a world in which there were no cell phones, no television, no emails, and “text” was a noun describing the content of a document. It seemed unimaginable to them. In turn, they were amusing and insightful about the reality and effects of technology in their world, a world which in turn I found unimaginable.
Later, in that slow, soft world before sleep, I thought about the incredible flood of experiences these younger members of the family have that I will never experience. The process of diminishment has closed the doors to that possibility.
Then I thought, “This is strange. I am not at all sad. I am lying here warm, safe, and with an overwhelming sense of joy. What is this?”
And then in that last moment before sleep came, I suddenly understood.
Diminishment has severely eroded the bridge of common experience between those of us at the table who were separated by fifty or more tumultuous years of history. Yet. . .
They chose to be with me. I chose with joy to be with them.
The power of diminishment to erode relationship is somehow held in check by the strength of the relationship. And the gift of diminishment (that loss of a world experienced in common) permitted the clear unimpeded view of something once called the bond of love.
Thinking with you that if diminishment permits me to see and know love more clearly, it is a gift indeed.
See you next week.