I’ve been dreaming about loss, why? Loss of material objects that were in my possession a decade ago (such as computer disks or books), or still having to finish some exams to earn my college degree or even my high school diploma (a recurring dream I have that I’d love to look up in the Big Book). Yes, why loss? Probably because I’m too comfortable where I am. According to the author Nassim Taleb I am currently reading, of which the main practical message seems to be that we should train ourselves to become more “antifragile”, which is not merely being “robust” or “resilient” but gaining from any negative impact that hits us. It is like the mythological Hydra, the monster that grew two new heads for every one chopped off. The book is a pleasant read by an erudite and unconventional former stock trader born in Lebanon, see if you can get a copy.
So, why dreaming about loss? And is it holding us back or making us stronger? Is it my unconscious chatterbox announcing that things can only go downhill from here? We could develop back pain or chronic tooth problems, diminishing eyesight or hebetudinousness between the sheets. Are we at our peak, struggling at best to postpone the inevitable decline, or at worst to camouflage it with cosmetics and glossy awards?
The most fundamental loss, from the perspective of the mind, would be the loss of freedom. But that loss of freedom (or more precise: optionality, the idea that you have your “options open”) in inevitable over time. Time transforms our ever so boundless star-gazing freedom into the history of our lives. Perhaps I’m standing on top of mount freedom, and the journey ahead doesn’t go downwards, but inwards. From now on, I’d have to carve away the excess material, like the famous Michelangelo who simply cut away all the stone that was “not-David”. Some freedoms we’ll have to give up and bury forever. No illusions: The other freedoms will also be buried, but on top of us. We’ll still be able to perceive them as freedoms while we’re lying on our backs closing our eyes for the last time.
Maybe maturing is another word for the experience of such loss?