Maturity. The Evolution of Man.

This evening I was sitting in a small recording studio, listening to a friend’s daughter deliver a vocal recital. During the (very skilled and moving) performance, I began to look around the room a bit, seeing other friends, relatives and siblings of the performer and some who I did not know. That, and the music inspired in me a rather melancholy feeling about evolution. Not the kind that is associated with Darwin however.

What happens to us as we age? No, that’s too broad. I mean what happens to our connectivity? We are born, at least much of the time, to parents who provide some social bearings for us. And perhaps brothers and sisters and extended family that provide a kind of background in which we begin to develop our own way of facing the world.

Eventually, we connect with peers. They come and go in our early lives, but there always seem to be those in the same relative age group that we associate with, find recreation with, etc. and as our lives develop in routine and stability, we seem to settle on a more fixed group of friends. Those much older or younger generally don’t fall in that social orbit. They may be friends, even confidants or more, but somehow they usually feel temporary. We don’t share history with them usually. It seems natural that we find spouses and colleagues/friends, etc. in our age-cohort.

Age brings disruption of the system. Contemporaries and siblings are taken by death or distance. On balance we seem less flexible in including new members of our group. Our cohort narrows, shrinks. Therefore we gradually become more isolated. Grandchildren find less reason to contact grandparents as they mature. Their lives become as self-involved as their predecessors were. And over-the-river-and-through-the-woods becomes less likely in the modern diaspora.

This shrinkage can bring loneliness and disconnection. Tangent to this is the gradual disfunction of body. You get around less and you tend to disappear from people’s consciousness. Illness and decrepitude brings its own isolation for a variety of reasons.

What counters this social entropy? Church and family may work against it in some respects. But it’s difficult to replace the connectivity one experiences with those who have common sympathies and history. And so we may die with few near us who really understand at least a part of the loss immanent in our passage.

Just sharing the downer. This really does have “links” to this blog. Can you figure some out? Hey, and cheer me up.

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10 Responses to Maturity. The Evolution of Man.

  1. Shelby says:

    So what you’re saying is that since Abraham lived so long, he died friendless? Is that the “link” you’re looking for? I thought so. And I knew I could cheer you up! See you soon :)

  2. J. Stapley says:

    As close to a recapitulation of Joseph Smith’s death context as we could find today, I would imagine. And his response remains puissant today, even if it isn’t particularly well circulated. Fortunately, if I am not mistaken, Sam’s book just got accepted by his press of choice.

  3. Tod Robbins says:

    Sam? Book? Press? OOOOOOOoo…

  4. Jacob J says:

    This reminds me of some of C.S. Lewis’ musings on getting old in his letters. He sometimes talked about these difficulties in aging as being helpful in helping him let go of this world and put his faith in the next life. Pretty cold comfort, but then, aging can be pretty depressing. Sorry you’re feeling down.

  5. W. V. Smith says:

    Jesus seems to have died alone in important respects. At least he felt desperately alone according to Matthew. J. points out that Joseph Smith died away from family and most of his close friends.

    Jacob: that’s interesting. I think that aging has that effect on many people. What’s left to hang around for? Although, my father did not want to go, even though he missed my mother a great deal. I’ve often wondered about that. I suppose everyone meets the downslope differently.

  6. J. Stapley says:

    Not just JS’s actual death, but the transition with his culture. People left home across the nation, and found themselves isolated from their kin and community, often far from their kindred dead.

  7. Part of it is how often people move. I’ve found that I’m building community around me, so that I am less lonely as I age rather than more so.

    • W. V. Smith says:

      Stephen, I think it is true that the process is locally reversible. But in the end it still gets us.

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