Children learn early, if they are blessed with a loving upbringing, that life holds rules and structure. We all remember chafing at not being able to do as we would have liked when we liked, but there were bedtimes, chores, responsibilities and expectations for behavior that were more important than we ever could have imagined.
Some say that the younger generations are softer now; some say that the generation of their parents are to blame. But the world changes so quickly, and so seriously, that I disagree with the finger-pointers. There are too many factors which have resulted in the shape of humanity today. None of my contemporaries, some who were on the cutting edge of computer technology in the 80s admit to having been able to see the dangers ahead. Many wish we could have seen better the potential downsides and dangers of what is essentially instantaneous news and knowledge in the hands of those too young to comprehend and deal with it. In reality, even grown adults have great difficulty with this.
Life is continuous change. Structure lends sanity, if not a method for dealing with the changes. Lack of structure, lack of duty, leads more swiftly to a chaotic result. In the scientific method, there is a procedure to theorize, test, analyze, and to make conclusions. Within philosophies there are methods to discern and weigh decisions, choices and actions.
With the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with the many tributes and documentaries of her life, one sees clearly a life of structure and duty. These do not have to preclude a sense of self and a life of joy. She beamed happily in so many photographs. At times, though, it is inevitable to feel very alone. Images of the Queen dressed in mourning, seated alone during the funeral of Prince Phillip, her husband of 70 years, drive home the reality that even though surrounded by literally hundreds of thousands of caring people around the world, she was indeed alone.
There are times when we will be forced to navigate unknown territories of life alone. What will keep us going? Support of loved ones, deeply held philosophies, religious beliefs, duty to carry on for our children or those we are physically caring for are some that I can think of, but there are more. Some individuals have the ability to reach deeply into a well of sheer will. I have witnessed many examples of each of these in my life.
I do believe in the power of the human body to heal, and of the spirit to soar, but there is sometimes a time lag, or a bumpy, touch-and-go takeoff before we feel any lift under our wings. Grief needs to run its individual course. My thoughts and prayers go out not only to the family and friends of Queen Elizabeth, but to everyone who is suffering a life-challenge, illness, or loss. The example of her life has fueled my own determination to find what is true and sure and honorable. She was not infallible; none of us are. Intent and faithfulness are arguably more important than what could be deemed “success.” Perhaps true courage is in reaffirming our own life structures and duties, taking the next breath, the next step, the next moment, and believing that wisdom and strength will come, even when we cannot see what is ahead.