I’ve recently taken up listening to podcasts now that I have a job where I can choose what I want to listen to and if I didn’t listen to something I’d probably go crazy. Most recently I was listening to Radiolab’s “Short: The Bitter End” episode. They talk about a lot of things, but one thing they talk about is the dicatomy between how people want to die and what people will do to avoid death.
Most people want to die quickly and peacefully. However, these same people also want feeding tubes, respirators, etc. in order to stay alive…which can be more of a slow painful death. They mention how it is both healthy to want to go peacefully and healthy to want to stay alive…but sometimes we need to accept life and death as they are and make a compromise.
At the end of the podcast they mention a quotation from Maurice Sendak. I was really taken by what he said…
“I am so in love with the tree and the beauty of it and my chance to keep it company just a little while longer.. and I want to stay and every extra day I get is a day that is precious to me and I want to stay even harder, but I am ready to go when it is time. I’ve made myself ready.”
I can’t help by to relate this to breakup’s and starting new relationships.
This idea especially resonates with me right now. In a couple months it will have been a year since my last big break up. And at this very moment I am about to leave for the airport with the new guy I am seeing to go home for my grandma’s service. She passed away a year ago exactly.
Mourning the loss of those close to me and mourning the loss of relationships are two things I’ve experienced more than I would like…and to me they can be a very similar experience at times. Not all the time and not in every way. I learn very different things about myself depending on whether it is death or a break up. But the pain of having someone not in your daily life anymore is a similar sort of aching.
The podcast had me thinking about how accepting your death really is the most peaceful way to go. It is almost like one in the same. Once you’ve accepted your death, you’ve reached a peaceful place. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt and isn’t hard. In a break up you can accept that you aren’t right for each other or they don’t want to be with you or whatever and be content with the separation…but the pain still comes in waves.
What I love about this quotation though, despite the dooming aspect of death, is the optimism he holds…which is why I want to think about relationships in this same way. Relationships run their course and when they are ready to end they will. We are resilient enough to accept that, learn something, and move on. Often times we are afraid of starting new relationships or are scared of intense feelings for someone new. Sendak’s words make me less scared.