On Mourning

My first experience of loss occurred when my grandmother passed away. I was sitting at home watching a documentary on UFO's when my mother suddenly received a call. As she was speaking into the phone, I could see the tears well up in her eyes and as she kept the phone down she could not help but break down completely. Seeing her in tears, I started crying too not knowing what was going on or why my mother was crying. I was 10 years old then. Today, about 14 and a half years after my mother is smilingly preparing breakfast in the next room. What changed? Why is my mother not crying now? Because the mourning is over.

"Time is the greatest healer" is one of the oft repeated statements when dealing with loss. People always get better the greater the time between today and the sorrowful event. So, if people do EVENTUALLY get better, why then is there an initial sadness? What is the purpose of mourning?

Many songs, books and travelogues have been written documenting the mourning process. My favourite is Neil Peart's Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road and the legendary Into The Wild. Both of these document a significant psychological trauma after which the protagonist travel 'away' from the source of the trauma to heal their wounds respectively.

Mourning as a phenomenon is not merely a social custom in man but can be seen in mammals such as elephants, dogs and other primates as well. Therefore it ought to provide an evolutionary mechanism for something - I believe it to be a motivation of creating distance from the traumatic event. Notice that death in the animal kingdom is very rarely self inflicted as in man, but more due to the presence of a predator or some other environmental agent. Therefore if a certain member of the species were to die, the process of mourning might prevent other members of the group form venturing into the same area thereby avoiding the cause of death of the member. It could be the same mechanism that makes time a great healer of trauma since receiving more positive feedback from the environment, over the course of time (even if the environment is the same eg. the same house where the traumatic event occurred) would create the same impression of 'moving away' from the source of the damage.

Your thoughts?

Burning Down The House!

I first heard of the Talking Heads when Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails pointed to Remain In Light as his favourite album of all time. Was it an amazing album? Yes it was! But the music didn't jump out at me and I had to pay a lot of attention to see the brilliance behind David Byrne & Co's masterpiece. I moved on to more of David Byrne's work with Brian Eno in tracks such as Strange Overtones and Home thanks largely to them being on one of my favourite movies - Wall Street 2. But then on a sleep deprived Saturday morning, at 4 AM my friend Dhruva Gautham played this mind blowing song....

.. and I haven't stopped listening to it since. (link to the lyrics) Talking Head's song writing abilities, sheer energy on stage and showmanship is plain for all to see. 

Talking Heads.. here I come!

On Rejection

Rejection is an interesting event that happens to everyone. One could be rejected by a lover, a company, a university or even by a cranky auto driver not willing to drive you to your destination simply because of the one-way in between. Turns out, rejection happens all the time to everyone simply because no person can satisfy everybody all the time. Simple right? But why does it leave such a bitter taste that sometimes takes a long while heal?

Nature has not wired anything into us that we don't need. Everything is useful and fulfills some purpose or the other in life - so what about sadness or rejection? Turns out, as in the case of rejection, as in the case of depression the sadness after rejection seeks to create an atmosphere and attitude to answer one simple question - Why?

Lets say one did not know why the auto-driver refused to take you "Was I rude to him before? Am I  stinking bad body odour? Is he a religious fanatic? Do I look like a terrorist? Does he have a distaste for people from my state?" are some the explanations that you might come up with. But knowing that there is a one-way road along the way makes his decision obvious- and even make you predict it!

But what of the complex case with human relationships? That strange case where boy rejects girl or vice-versa, when the interviewer assures of a job but then you get a rejection letter, when a father kicks the son out of the house for seemingly no reason. What then does one do? There are never any sure answers are there?

But amongst all those who eventually heal, one realization is common. Plainly put - "It's not my fault, I'm still worth it". The rejected individual knows that he/she is worth it IN SPITE  of being rejected! This being the case the individual would never feel the sadness after rejection because they know that it was not caused due to anything that was in their power, but rather by the grand chaos that surrounds us all...