People mention needing closure a lot, especially here in California where closure was invented — along with denial, actualization, primal scream, male sensitivity and the hot tub in which to exorcise all those feelings.
I’ve never met a closure consultant, but I can assure you, without bothering to even check, that in Marin County we have them coming out of our teak veneer. Going for closure is an activity that distracts us while the sharp pain of the loss of a loved one abates. The loss can be due to disease, as in the case of a death, or to the pool boy, as in the case of a runaway wife.
Nature has its own way of dealing with loss. Over time, the pain of loss reduces in intensity and memories become less frequent and less vivid. Gradually, one’s mind comes to an equilibrium point where the loss becomes just another item on the memory shelf labeled “sad and unfortunate things that happened to me.”
There is another kind of closure that also occurs over time and that is the closure of oneself. At birth, one’s potential is infinite. This baby could become a doctor or a dolt, a professor or a pawnbroker, a gentleman or a gambler or — and fate smiles whenever this happens — a gentleman gambler.
The first 30-odd years of one’s life are a series of openings. We open our minds; we open our hearts. We open books and bank accounts; we might even open a business. We get married, have a family and open our wallet to buy a home that we open to relatives on a short-term holiday basis only. We open our financial records to run for office or to answer a persnickety letter from the IRS.
Meanwhile, unnoticed in the flush of openings, closing-down activities are also taking place. Some closing-downs are truly unconscious and have to do with how our brains are wired. For example, certain Eskimos can distinguish vowel sounds that you and I cannot. Studies show if a newborn doesn’t use this particular skill by age 3, it is shut down and those neurons are repurposed for something else, like mastering Missile Command at the arcade.
Closures become noticeable when there are few new openings and we begin to close down what we were already doing. Selling the airplane, canceling Runner magazine, selling the boat, lowering weights and reducing reps at the health club.
As we age, we close off certain physical abilities as well as mental capabilities. Body parts break down and we close them off. We get smaller and smaller until we ourselves are closed off to make room for some other being that is just now awakening to a brand new world of openings.
All this closing down and shutting off doesn’t have to happen to you, or at least not at normal speed. Some suggestions:
• Move: Scientists tell us that nature abhors a vacuum. What it abhors even more is a couch potato. Stay there long enough and nature will wreak havoc on your lower back and empty your brain of thinking cells.
• Adultilize: The cycle of life is from dependent infant to dependent adult, or to use the proper medical terminology, diaper-to-diaper. To slow down this process, don’t infantilize. Be alert to the symptoms. Stay out of the fetal position, avoid soft foods and, for God’s sake, get that thumb out of your mouth.
• Go new:Habits are mental rust. The more often you allow your brain to run on automatic, the more it will shut down its ability to adapt.
Brain Monitor 1: Wait. You can’t shut that down. What if he decides to go whitewater rafting?
Brain Monitor 2: Get real. CLICK!
To keep your brain alert, you need to think and engage in new activities. Walk to familiar places via different routes. Wear your watch on the opposite wrist once a week and do something risky like bungee jumping every three months. There’s nothing like impending death, rushing up to meet you face on, to kick the tires and light the fires of your mind.
This Week's Ponder: Am I getting older if I don’t remember the hill I’m over?