Posts Tagged ‘Doctor Who’

The Myth of Closure

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

I’ve been digging through fissures, cleaning out my mind and emptying it onto journal pages (see previous blog entry). It’s been a healthy challenge, trying to zero in on tangible motivations while flashing through a variety of hurt-states, buying into confusion rackets. And poking out from the heap of detritus is a surprise notion about Closure: It doesn’t exist.

The therapist would argue otherwise, I suspect. But hear me out.

Consider the times in our lives when we desire closure. You’re mid-way through creating a great meal for friends, and inspiration seals the dessert — it’s going to be spectacular. You’re on your third date with someone who managed to Pass The Test on the second date. You’re prepping for the incoming class while proofing a co-authored paper. You’re taking your kid to the beach to help him fly a kite.

Does any of that require closure? Of course not. This is all LIFE, in its glory and ruin and intricate fractal absorption.

How about these:

You almost made it back in time to watch your father die. You’re sitting on the couch after the final explosive argument that caused her to march away into her own life, without you. Your friend, the one who no longer seems to desire any Venn overlap, name-checks you in a Facebook post.

Ah yes, there are the fractals.

Moments of longing. Reminders of unfinished business. This stuff digs into you and festers, and you long for a way to temper those neurons, to put it all to rest.

Closure becomes a component of transition. You feel yourself moving in some direction, or maybe just being pushed somewhere. And you want to release your grip on an old life. So you examine that life, again and again, searching for the release points, the elements needed to finalize thoughts and feelings, put that all into a box. But you’re still in it. Examining. Stewing. Digging. Never letting go.

So what is closure? How is something “closed”?

You want a chance to tell him the things left unsaid. To get it out in the open. Okay. Let’s go back in time and do it, right now. Call him up and tell him, get it out. Close it.

And then… what? Has the hurt been closed? Did the admission of unrequited love manage to eliminate that love? I doubt it. You might have made yourself feel better in the moment, and that’s valuable, but the most likely scenario is that the complex puzzle of pain and love isn’t wiped clean, and the “situation” could manifest itself again in some other way, perhaps requiring another intervention.

This is what I’m getting at. We respond to the cues of transition (upheaval, exodus, death, etc.) with a desire for context, for a bookend. We convince ourselves that the magic bookend must exist, that complexity of emotion (and is there anything more complex than that?) can be tied off with a single knot. Then we tell ourselves that the bookend always existed, that we should have closed it all when we had the chance, as if life had always been that simple. And then we force ourselves to find a way to close it anyway, burning people out, burning ourselves out, or forever approaching the limit.

But the reality of the situation just might be that there would never be a bookend. The “closure” in which you invest is a fantasy of a simple life.

Life is like the X-Files. Each season-ending reveal and solution opens a shit-box of tangential mysteries, and pretty soon you’re wading through Season 9, wondering what the hell happened to Mulder. Lost within the tangles, grasping for meaning.

The deep, interpersonal challenges that are woven into our fibrous makeup are not simple, and cannot be clearly resolved like some Help-Desk Ticket of the Soul. Resolution is a conglomerate of emotions and time vectors. It’s an aspiration, and a good one, but it shouldn’t be the Thing We Do, in some constant state of resolve. The Thing We Do is what we are doing right now. Resolution is part of it. So is breathing and eating. Laughing, crying, puking, walking. I don’t drive relentless focus into walking. I just… walk.

Here, I’ll really murder this freaking metaphor for you. You’ve been through some shit. You need to walk away, put it behind you. Yes, do it. Walk. But this intensity of “closure” plays out as walking while looking behind you. You are focused on doing something about this thing that you are walking away from. You are putting yourself out of reach, while wanting to hang on. And worse yet, you aren’t even looking forward, don’t even know where you’re going. Turning around and looking forward doesn’t bring closure. But it shifts your attention from that nagging construct, gives you some ownership of direction. Perspective fills your wake, and what seems to be closure is actually distance and space.

In the end, I think life can be less like the X-Files and bit more like Doctor Who. Loop around, get goofy and serious and very, very weird. And, when the time seems right, regenerate. Gloriously regenerate.