The father of fears
Posted on September 15, 2010 | Author: Vithal C Nadkarni | View 172
In haunting retrospect, when the time came for his only parent’s demise, the scribe found himself functioning like an automaton. There was the heartbreaking business of speaking calmly and clearly without a quaver; of invoking the Goddess of Illumination just once and that too by name rather than by sacred syllables. For the scribe did not want it to sound like goodbye or Godspeed.
So he chose to reassure with gesture and tone. But inwardly he felt wretched. Thus, the son became the father of Man. Although all he wanted to do was to run away from reality. But he could not. Besides they were trapped together in the sterile embrace of medical technology.
Then the healers in white and their acolytes in blue intervened to begin their resuscitation dance. Thus the father’s last words turned out to be the son’s name urgently called out twice along with “I’m feeling breathless.” If he wanted action, he got plenty. But it could not prevent his departure to that undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveller returns.
Thus, the scribe came face to face with what Sigmund Freud called ‘our ultimate helplessness’, which is the defining characteristic of the human condition. This was also Buddhism’s ‘truth of impermanence’.
Paradoxically, our survival instinct itself operates from this primal truth, the therapists Richard and Bonney Schaub say in their handbook for spiritual realists, The End of Fear: Life is a wondrous and strange experience in which everything and everyone you see, including yourself (and your nonagenarian parent), is subject to change and loss at every moment.
Shakespeare summarises this primeval insight in As you like it: “And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe,/ And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot,/ And thereby hangs a tale.” The awareness of the worm wriggling inside the golden apple lies at the root of all our anxieties says psychiatrist Aaron Beck, the pioneering founder of cognitive therapy.
“The monsters that come to take children away in the night are storybook models of the truth that one day you and I will be taken from our present lives,” the Schaubs, who are also the co-founders and co-directors of The New York Psychosynthesis Institute, add.
“And before we are taken, we will witness it happening to others, including those we love. Looking at it in this light, we see that our fears are not unreasonable at all.