Last Essay for February

Writing an essay a day is an easy thing to do. Writing an interesting essay a day is not, at least not for me. The month of February was an excellent exercise in cutting the chaff from the wheat, and I’m glad that I did my essay-a-day project.

Observations that I’ve made about the past month’s worth of writing:

  • I often did not know what I was going to write about until a few hours before I had to write it. This produced some pieces that were uninspiring to me, but also generated some of my favorite essays. As with fiction writing, sometimes you just have to trust the process.
  • I have a tendency to pick theses that are too ambitious for short essays. Many times during February, I would be two or three thousands words deep into an essay and realize that it would require thousands more to properly address its thesis. I would then have to set that essay aside and think of something else to write that could be properly confined to 500-1,500 words.
  • I didn’t anticipate so many pieces that were inspired by, or incorporated, music. My writing in the past hasn’t done this, but I’ve found it to be valuable to me (and hopefully anyone who reads the essays). I’m not exactly sure how I’ll incorporate music into future writing, but it’s exciting to have a new tool.
  • I’ve always written consistently, almost daily. But the writing would be very short notes and to-do lists in one notebook or another. After this February, the notebooks will likely contain more essays. I find myself drifting into the David Sedaris pattern of writing, although I know he didn’t publicly post most of his notebook scribblings (I actually haven’t either—there are piles of filled notebooks in my room right now).

I think I’ll do another essay-a-day project later in the year, but definitely not before June. I have a book to finish writing.

Cat Tatt

I ordered a temporary tattoo that should last somewhere between one and three weeks. The tattoo is of a cat. I am excited.

There’s not much that I have to say about the acceptability of tattoos that I haven’t already said in “Blue Hair, Don’t Care,” but, as with my blue hair, my tattoo will be temporary.

I don’t care to have permanently colored hair or inked skin; that doesn’t mean that I’m opposed to the idea in general, just that I prefer optionality. Why have blue hair forever (or until the dye wears out), when I can have blue hair one day, and green hair the next, and my natural hair color the day after?

Now that I’ve walked around Cambridge and Boston with colored hair for a bit, I’ll be interested to compare its reception to the cat tattoo’s. The colored hair drew a lot of slanted eyes, and I was looked at askance on multiple occasions.

Perhaps part of the reason for this was that, apart from my hair (which was itself styled in the fashion of a Harvard cut), the rest of my self-presentation was remarkably plain. I usually wear mostly blacks, dark blues, and olive colors in the winter, and these are always the colors of sweaters, slim-straight pants, and vests. Maybe the looks were just a result of the contrast between the atypical hair color and the very typical everything else.

But some of the looks definitely weren’t, which I hadn’t expected in large numbers. Being surprised that someone is atypical in some manner of self presentation in Cambridge is like walking around Hell and being surprised that people are being poked with pitchforks. It’s just how things are done here.

So, given that, even places like Cambridge have a long way to go before reaching blue-hair-don’t-care status.

But the cat tattoo will be different in a few ways:

  • I will deploy it in a few weeks when it’s consistently warm enough to wear shorts on my outdoor runs.
  • I will place the cat tattoo on my calf muscle.
  • Images of cats, generally, portend whimsy. Brazenly colored hair does not—if anything, the connotations associated with that are slightly negative on balance.
  • Even though no one will know my tattoo is temporary upon visual inspection, a cat tattoo is sort of in the category of a tattoo with “Mom” written on banner that encircles a heart. Yeah, it’s a tattoo, but it’s not a skull or even just barbed wire. It’s. A. Cat.

Of course, I’ll have to wear the cat tattoo by itself for a few days, and then also color my hair to see what the joint impression will be. I will be delighted and overcome with the aforementioned whimsy, and I hope that others can be as well.

Dating and Friend Making

In recent history I’ve deliberately changed my approach to finding prospective long-term romantic partners. Normally, this process is facilitated through the dating process, which entails a series of interactions that, usually within the first several, begin to incorporate physical intimacy on some level (from hand-holding on up).

In contrast to dating, there is the friend-making process. The adult friend-making process (for many) begins with a few small interactions that are very gradually scaled up over weeks and months—perhaps longer.

If your potential new friend is a coworker, this process can be made easier by virtue of the repeated daily contact. If they are not a coworker, but perhaps just another frequent visitor of your favorite coffee shop, the process can take longer to get off the ground.

But, eventually, should you acquire a sufficient amount of mutual knowledge and trust, you will start to share increasingly intimate information and experiences, like going out to eat together, seeing movies, visiting each other’s living quarters, or taking trips together.

I am generally reluctant to voluntarily spend a lot of time with someone I don’t know a lot about, especially if early signs indicate that we don’t get along sufficiently to justify the volume of interaction. So if I make a friend that I dedicate much outside-of-work time to, it’s because I know a good deal about them, and I like what I know. And it’s only at this more advanced stage of knowing them that I willingly share a lot of personal information about myself in the hopes/dreams/fears department.

The friend-making process as described above is designed to scale: you begin with a little interaction and information sharing, and gradually increase over time if warranted. After this has gone on long enough, the friend becomes a sort of best friend or confidant.

This is the opposite of the standard dating model, and is the reason that I jettisoned “dating” as I’ve traditionally done it.

The traditional trajectory of dating for most people, and my historical self, has been: spend lots of time with someone you just met (or, at least more than you normally would), and introduce physical intimacy relatively early on in your relationship; this doesn’t have to be sex—it can be something like kissing.

I would never make a friend in that fashion, and the reason why is the same reason that I’ve stopped trying to forge an enduring romantic connection that way: it allows emotional intimacy, by virtue of brain chemistry, to disproportionately outstrip the growth of conscious friendship building—and to cloud one’s ability to even do that. Oxytocin is a tricky thing, and introducing it too early is the same as voluntarily retarding your ability to accurately evaluate relational compatibility with another person. This increases the chances that you will devote more time to someone who, absent the bonding chemical, you would have otherwise left behind.

Since I want any man that I form a romantic connection with to also be my friend, friendship building must happen first—and only then can romantic connections be established.

This approach isn’t novel in human history by any means, and I wouldn’t imagine that what I’m doing would be right for everyone—although I think it might be right for many people. This also doesn’t preclude casual romantic encounters for a variety of reasons—it just requires that I recognize the dimming effects that they will have on my evaluative powers and control for them. This shapes the nature and context of those encounters, but that’s for another essay.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

Technical Skill Applied to Terrible Ends

In the past few weeks I’ve attended several musical performances; I enjoyed some, but not others. One thing that they all had in common was that each featured performers with high technical skill and mastery of their instruments. This commonality made the enjoyable performances better, as one would expect, but made the unenjoyable performances—not necessarily worse, but interesting in a way I hadn’t thought about.

In general, I think that competent execution of a task or skill is an attractive thing to watch. The spectacle of a concert pianist’s hands is a performance in its own right, apart from the sounds that they provoke.

But what happens when the sounds that those expert hands produce is a carefully orchestrated cacophony? Here, I’m not talking about discord that makes contextual sense (it sets the stage for resolution into some kind of harmony, or relief of tension, or something). I’m talking about ugly sounds that exist as the primary focus of the performance, absent context that would give them relevant meaning.

In competent hands these sounds have a complex structure, and often as a result hint at some kind of resolution or context—but never provide it. In addition to aural displeasure, the music is a repeated shattering of expectations and refusal to provide relief.

If it is a musician’s goal to produce exactly those emotions, then, while the music won’t necessarily be pleasant, it can be potentially interesting in the context of a musician’s goal. Sometimes the point of music is just to stimulate emotion, and exploring emotions, even the kind that correspond to “repeated shattering of expectations” can be an interesting exercise. In the same manner, I might see a horror movie—in that space it’s safe to explore darker emotions and fears.

But not all art is good, or is done with good intentions (which I know is controversial to some), and that can include music.

Bad art, when paired with—and produced by—competent displays of technical mastery, is emotionally confusing. I’ll come back to the piano: watching a skilled pianist’s hands, absent sound, is sufficiently wonderful for a show. But if they produce bad music, I can’t turn away as easily as if some toddler were mashing their hands down on the keys—it’s a different kind of bad, one with delicate structure. I’m not sure if it’s like a car crash—I can’t look away because I’m sort of incredulous that such a thing is happening—or because I wish that somehow the competence of execution would bleed over into the aesthetic and aural quality of the music. To be determined, I suppose.

In any case, I would gladly just put on noise cancelling headphones and watch such a pianist play.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

Personality Tests & Alignment

The game Dungeons and Dragons has a schema used to determine a game character’s moral and personal attitudes, which are summed up by its “alignment.” Alignment is derived by a point on a Cartesian plane, the two axes of which are “good vs. evil” and “law vs. chaos.” For the sake of this essay, assume that good and evil are on the x-axis, and law and chaos are on the y-axis, as below.

As you can see, there are nine principal alignments that are produced at the extreme points of the axes:

  1. Lawful Good, “Crusader”
  2. Neutral Good, “Benefactor”
  3. Chaotic Good, “Rebel”
  4. Lawful Neutral, “Judge”
  5. True Neutral, “Undecided”
  6. Chaotic Neutral, “Free Spirit”
  7. Lawful Evil, “Dominator”
  8. Neutral Evil, “Malefactor”
  9. Chaotic Evil, “Destroyer”

To read the details about each one, go here.

But, as you could also imagine, there are many more points than just these nine—there are as many other points as the Cartesian plane would permit, which approaches infinity.

Although I don’t think this schema is incredibly profound, I think it’s useful and fun for thinking about my own tendencies and personality traits; for the same reason, I don’t think that Myers-Briggs personalities are dispositive, but I like the mental exercise that their contemplation engenders.

In practice, this kind of introspection can go in one of two broad directions:

  • You can pick one of the nine on the list you like best for yourself, thinking it correctly represents the ideals you hold, or
  • You can pick the one of the nine that actually represents how you are, which may or may not line up with the ideals that you hold.

The first kind of introspection isn’t really introspection—it’s wishful selection based on what we’d like to find upon actual introspection, although individuals who do it aren’t typically explicit about the fact that they’re doing it. Others have called this belief in belief,” and I’ll keep that terminology. It’s what’s at work when someone says, “I’m a [person who believes in this or that deity/religion]” while the rest of their thoughts and actions contradict that belief.

The second kind of introspection can be done with varying levels of quality, but it does require that an individual be able to examine what is happening in their head, and why. Unlike the first kind, the second kind does not pick a conclusion beforehand—it picks one after examining the metrics for selection and accepting where they point.

Put otherwise, the second approach asks, “Do I really think that? Do my actions line up with that?” instead of doing what the first approach does, “I’m that one!”

Take the alignment schema for a whirl. I think it’s an interesting way to conceptualize various personal tendencies. In general, it seems like I tend toward “chaotic good,” although I’m not on the edge of the Cartesian alignment graph.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

You Can’t Make Old Friends

Sometimes when you meet someone new, you feel a strong connection to them. This can happen for a variety of reasons. But for me, the feeling of connection is always accompanied by a feeling of frustration. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it is at the heart of me making friends as an adult.

The frustration results from the new potential friend not knowing anything about you (and vice versa)—despite an excellent first encounter, they don’t know your history or your true level of sincerity about anything. I always have a strong desire to explain myself to these rare people—but this explanation isn’t justification, it’s evidence.

This frustration is similar to this one: you love a thing, whether that is a TV franchise, a book series, or whatever. You’ve loved it forever, and you know everything about it. You love to discuss it. Then, one day, one of your friends begins to also enjoy that thing—they watch the first episode, read the first book, or whatever—and all the sudden you want them to just be done with it. You don’t want to rush their experience, but you want to share your full one with them and enjoy it together.

The same holds true with people: until you know a great deal about them (“watched the series of their life,” so to speak), and they know a great deal about you, you can’t forge a truly deep (Aristotle’s friends of the good) relationship with them. This process, unfortunately, cannot be rushed. In my experience, it takes me about two years to go from actively deciding to be friends with someone to platonically loving them.

This might otherwise be called the frustration with acquiring old friends. You can’t just make an old friend who’s known you for a while, and consequently understands you more than others might (and vice versa). If you want more friends like this, you have to start today and let them mature over the course of years.

There’s nothing to do about this frustration—good friendships take time to build, even with someone who is remarkably like you. But being aware of the emotion, and why it exists, is beneficial nonetheless. It primes me to cultivate new friendships when opportunity strikes, and to continue to cultivate friendships that I’ve made.

There are too many stories of friends falling out of touch, and not because of any bad reason, just because one moves away or something—I’ve had a few of these. But I will conscientiously avoid having them in the future. To give up a friend also means losing someone who shares a piece of your life that perhaps no one else will understand, having not witnessed it. Assuming that this friend is a good person, I generally think it’s worth the work to keep up with them (there are qualification to this, of course, but those aren’t the subject of this essay).

Note: for anyone who’s read Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, I would call the corollary of this frustration Claudia syndrome, per this line said by Armand to Louis:

“She’s an era for you, an era of your life. If and when you break with her, you break with the only one alive who has shared that time with you. You fear that, the isolation of it, the burden…”

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

The Inaugural Outdoor Run

I don’t run all year round—I usually stop running sometime in early November, and don’t start again until the first 68º+ day of the year. Running outside when it’s cold is terrible, and I just know I would slip on some ice and bleed out off the beaten path. And then I’d be found by children on their way to school, and it just wouldn’t be great.

But today the high was 70º and sunny, so away I went along the banks of the Charles River in Cambridge. This essay is in honor of the inaugural outdoor run of the year.

Running is interesting because:

  • You can do it by yourself, or with others.
  • You can listen to music, or not.
  • You can run indoors or outdoors.
  • You can wear some standard gym attire, or go for the (wonderfully) ridiculous neon shoes runners are known to possess.
  • You can run one mile, or 10+.
  • You can run slow, or you can run fast.
  • You can assiduously track every stat about your run (mph, length, calories, elevation, and so many other things). Or you could just step out the door and make your legs carry you however far you feel like.

It’s a wonderfully versatile sport, which means that it’s also open to many different kinds of people. I would never say that everyone should run, because there are many ways to move and some people just hate running, but I do think that there’s a good amount of people in the world who should try it for a month. That’s long enough to allow your body to adjust to what you’re making it do, and long enough to get sufficient experiential data to see your near-future trajectory.

The very first time I ran was when I signed up for the 7th grade track team, which was motivated in large part by the knowledge that my mother ran track when she was in high school. The first day of practice, our coach had everyone run one mile on the track. It was absolutely one of the worst physical experiences of my life up until that point—I was a thin, frail, asthmatic kid, and I took 17 minutes to run that mile. For perspective, I usually walk miles faster than that now.

But I wanted to be a runner for a variety of reason, so I stayed with the sport. I’m glad I did, because it’s a way to experience sunshine in solitude, even in a city. I also derive immense satisfaction and self-esteem from building my body and making it faster, and testing its speed regularly.

And also I get to wear my running tights.

Side note: I’m a writer, and also a runner. This seems to be a common pairing. When I think about why, I think about something Anne Rice (author of Interview with the Vampire) said in a 1988 interview with Writer’s Digest:

“Unlike moviemaking, dancing, classical music, painting–anything at all–writing requires a minimum of equipment, yet allows for a maximum of expression of passion and creativity.”

Both writing and running are bare manifestations of movement and expression, with little need of other equipment or medium other than the person doing them. And both allow many people to feel and express many things.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words, but a Song’s Worth a Million

After writing yesterday’s post, and realizing that I tend to attach music to my essays to give them depth, I thought I’d just write a musical essay. Below, you will find a list of songs, all of which I consider to be profoundly provocative for one reason or another. I’ve also tagged each with an emotional association.

A note: most of the pieces don’t have vocal parts, and if they do it is in the form of an accompanying choir. Some of the pieces are long(ish), and I consider these to have value in their buildup. The final release and climax of the songs are just that, and they have the same sort of emotional rhythm as sex (I don’t consider this to be crude–it just is, and it is beautiful).

There are so many more songs than these that I love, but I’ve only included eleven, and they are all roughly on the positive side of the emotional spectrum. But there are plenty of songs that I love that make even rage and wrath seem beautiful. For a Spotify link to the playlist, click here. Otherwise, I’d recommend copying and pasting the song name and source into YouTube for the full length of each.

1. “Forbidden Friendship” from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack (my favorite soundtrack):

  • Emotional associations: discovery, soaring above clouds to meet the sun, triumph, self-actualization.
  • Emotional climax begins at 2:48.

2. “Coming Back Around” from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: earned happiness, sweet reward, celebratory triumph.
  • Buckle up at 1:08, and remain seated until the song’s conclusion. I listen to the part at 2:18 at full volume. It’s worth the ear drums. Do not listen to this while driving a car unless you are fine with your foot involuntarily accelerating the car in response to the music.

3. “To the Spaceport” from the Treasure Planet soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: sense of adventure.
  • If you don’t want to hop a steamship to the new world by 1:14 in this song, we are very different people.

4. “Romantic Flight” from the How to Train Your Dragon soundtrack (you thought I was done with it. I’LL NEVER BE DONE WITH IT).

  • Emotional associations: beauty, romance, sweetness
  • Brace for the part at 1:27.

5. “The Ludlows” from the Legends of the Fall soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: a sunset over the full big sky of the American plains, connection to the events of long ago.
  • 4:44 adds the final bittersweet tinge to this song.

6. “Planet Earth II Suite” from the Planet Earth II soundtrack

  • Emotional association: pure, unadulterated exaltation. If I were to start my own church, this song would be its anthem and only hymn.
  • This song is short, and yet takes a while to build. It is possibly my favorite piece of music. The brief hint of profundity that appears at 1:42 only increases until the climactic end of the song. It’s like the feeling of waves going in and out at high tide. The water leaves, and comes back a little higher. It leaves, and then comes back a little higher. All at once, without noticing, you’re inundated at the 3:00 mark.

7. “Alice’s Theme” from the Alice in Wonderland soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: to abscond, to flee to adventure, the feeling of being surrounded by old New England brick and lore, “follow if you dare.”

8. “No Time for Caution” from the Interstellar soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: inevitability, accepting mortality, foreboding, finality.
  • The organ introduction at 0:44, and the way the instrument is woven throughout the rest of the song, gives it all meaning for me.
  • When I listen to this song on a high quality sound system, my body jerks at the impacts beginning at 2:35–they’re such that the audio feels like it should be a solid impacting mass.

9. “Heart of Courage” by Thomas Bergerson (the only song on this list not from a soundtrack):

  • Emotional associations: this is Sparta, ferocity, resolution, strength.
  • It really is Sparta.

10. “Hedwig’s Theme” from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: connection with humanity (humanity has few things in common, but Harry Potter is one of them), deliberate progression and pressing forward, flying over and under and around.

11. “God Yu Tekem Laef Blong Mi” from the The Thin Red Line soundtrack:

  • Emotional associations: the relief that follows bereaved weeping; a soul departed to peace.
  • This song comes and goes in waves, with repetitions on the theme building as the song goes. 1:29 is its height.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

A Few More Weeks of Winter, Please

I look forward to winter all year, but not because of the holidays. For me, winter is the time of year when I get the most done; I produce the most writing and I read the most steadily. My focus is at its height.

This is because winter inspires an enduring melancholy in me. It’s not depression–it’s not debilitating. It just removes the impulsive desire to try new things and go new places that rules me in summer and lingers into fall. It also makes me less anxious for romantic connection, which, as well all know, can be insanely distracting. Like the snow of the season, the melancholy has a muting effect on the more adventurous and extreme emotions that the other seasons permit.

In summer, I wake up to radiant sunshine and want to take a ferry to an island, or drive to someplace along the coast. Even if I have work to do (and often it’s work that I want to do) those desires are insistent, and sometimes become intrusive. I do enjoy them, but sometimes I wish there was an off switch. Winter is that switch, and I’m glad to engage it every year.

This might sound terrible to some people, and it might very well be for them. But not for me.

This week in Boston we will have two consecutive days of weather above 60 degrees, and both will have sun coverage. I already feel the “I must get outside and do [all the things]” urge, and I will at least go for a long run outside both days. But when that feeling appeared for the first time this week–the same one that you get when you wake up to sunshine on a beautiful summer morning, maybe the morning where you leave for some summer trip–my first desire was to mute it. My actual reaction at the first return of the summer adventure feeling was, “Aww crap. I don’t have time for this–there’s too much still to do.”

I like the seasons (except spring), and the differences that each one brings in me and the world. I wouldn’t wish away the summer, or live my whole life in winter.

But I’m not done with winter and the melancholic focus that it gives. I know many people want a few more weeks of summer every year, but I’d gladly forgo them in exchange for a few more weeks of winter.

Note: in the past, I have tried to explain the particulars of my winter melancholy to people, but only with partial success. Music often does better than words for some things having to do with emotion for me, so if you really want to know what I mean by “winter melancholy,” listen to Brian Crain’s “Dancing with Eyes Closed,” and then “Ballet of the Little Cafe,” in that order. The emotion you’re left with after the sequence is sort of what I mean.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.

On Goodbyes

There’s a different meaning to the word “sorry” depending on the way we say it, and the context in which we say it.

If you say it absentmindedly after bumping into someone, the word “sorry” effectively means “pardon me”—I’ll call this the common sorry. It’s not at all a supplication for absolution or whatever else sorry might mean to someone who’s done something wrong, which I’ll call the absolutionary sorry (I don’t subscribe to the standard use of absolutionary sorry, but that’s for another post).

And I think most people readily recognize that “sorry” means many things, depending on context. Otherwise the convention of “you said it, but you didn’t mean it” wouldn’t exist.

For me, valedictions operate the same way. “Goodbye” has different meanings, and, like “sorry,” it has two general categories of use: quotidian and violently potent.

We say “goodbye” or “bye” to people all the time, especially in text or over the phone. This is sort of the equivalent to the “pardon me” version of sorry, except this ordinary usage of “goodbye” means “we’re pausing for now, and this is the end of the current communication/interaction, but nothing else.” The common goodbye, as I’ll call it, functions just like a period at the end of a sentence; we pay attention to it just as much, and it carries all the same emotional weight (which is to say, none).

But there is another kind of goodbye, just like there is another kind of sorry. This is the denouementary goodbye; I don’t think “denouementary” is technically a word, but I made it from the word “denouement,” which is “the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.”

The denouementary goodbye is perhaps one of the most forceful things in the human world. We say it to enemies, to loved ones, and many people in between. Its purpose is to bring a grand thing to a close, whether that is a relationship, a phase of life, or even a life itself. We give the common goodbye every day, but we reserve the denouementary goodbye for: trips across the planet, weddings, college departures, and funerals.

And I know that traveling abroad, like many things, isn’t as final as it used to be, especially with communications technology. But when I’ve travelled, the denouementary goodbye isn’t exchanged because that moment of international departure is final—it’s exchanged in advance, in case, because of events that may happen far away, it would have needed to be.

Because of its nature, I do not generally like to give the denouementary goodbye. To give it is to recognize a final end in some form.

I’ve moved across the country a few times, for a variety of reasons: college, work, or because I wanted to. I’ve lived abroad several times. And now, just as I (perhaps) am starting to stand still, I find that others are moving around me, in life and location. I’ve generally been the one leaving others, and rarely am I the one being left. It’s a curious reversal to say the least, and not necessarily a bad thing.

When I’ve left people and places, I’ve refused denouementary goodbyes, both giving and receiving them. And I still do. In many cases, someone moving across the country warrants a goodbye, but it’s a kind that stands between the common and denouementary. It’s sort of a very extended “see you later.” I’ll call it the extended goodbye. And it truly is just “see you later.” Life is long, and full of surprises. Combined with technological advances, there is a decreasing need for the denouementary goodbye, and more need for the extended goodbye in its place.

But I also recognize that there could possibly come a time when denouementary goodbyes will be warranted, whether I want them or not. If I ever get sufficiently old, or sufficiently sick, they will be necessary. If someone I love does either, they will be necessary. If I fall in love, and then the love fractures, they will be necessary.

Denouementary goodbyes, until recently, could be used on both good and bad occasions. They marked a final transition, and those are both good and bad. But our technological progress as a species increasingly turns the cases of good denouementary goodbyes into simple extended goodbyes. More and more, denouementary goodbyes are solely the province of those finalities we would rather not face if we didn’t have to.

There’s no moral to this essay, just a reflection: I’m happy that I currently have a life that requires many extended goodbyes, but no denouementary ones. I know that will change, but it hasn’t yet.

This post is part of my project to write one essay every day of February 2018. The essay topics will vary, but they’ll all be something I’m interested in. All essays can be found here.