An Invisible Presence at The Birth


In almost every case the birth of a child is a moment of Joy, occasionally Panic, Fear or Unease: normally the product of stable parents but sometimes not, the child might be blessed with love or any response from a range of emotions.  In almost every case there will be a reaction to his or her arrival in the world, and for a number of years, his life will be the subject of scrutiny and dialogue. Surrounding him may be Admiration, Love, Joy, Celebration, Envy. Jealousy, Pride, Desire, and a thousand other emotions dwelling within the human heart and waiting for expression.

In time pride in his  achievements or shame at his record are both possible, and he may experience differing reactions. Our friends above will jostle and sometimes party together over his presence. Indifference is not an obvious presence at the birth festival but it knows  that, in time, of which it has an infinite supply, it may be left free to  investigate your vulnerabilities long after those other responses have found a fresh outlet for their interest. You, now past your period of note, will be free to explore your own insignificance in its company, and only your  final disposal may possibly create a last small stir of interest among those other long absent reactions.

In far too many places Indifference is the primary companion of the elderly.  Robbed of instancy,  their experience and insights have no appeal to those fed on a culture of ‘Upgrades’. or seeking a fresh distraction from the grind. Long after they have ceased to ‘join in the party’,’ hold a celebration’, or make a point, the elderly may stare out of the window or watch mindless television, while they explore the concept of obsolescence. The phone is silent now. Few knock on the door, and those who visit  do so largely through  guilt rather than joy.

It is in the uninstructed, unobserved moments of our lives,  when we show our true nature . When, unguided by our neighbours or public scrutiny, we treat those without the power of response in a manner which might be chilling if observed. Some souls show compassion and bring a moment of light to these forgotten lives, but many others, lost in their own anxieties and careless of your worth, may do the very least they must if they are  still to be thought civilised.

Now, in a warehouse called a home, or at some unvisited  address, that baby, long after the celebration of it’s birth, may now find Indifference to be its sole companion,  seeping into it’s being like a debilitating fog

What will be lost, in this silent transformation? The years you shed, and the laughter that you shared when your character still made its presence felt. Now as you lie exhausted in some vacant lot, visited on occasion by Compassion and its old friend Empathy, those things you know and shared will lie,  dormant wisdoms behind your unfocused gaze, and those who have yet to taste the fruit you eat, free of flavour and low on nourishment, may place you in a home where you may sit in rows on wooden chairs, and be fed like chickens in a  shed.

“Life is Life is Life” the poet said, and sought to include all beings in the whole but somehow in an age of obsolescence, when fresh updates clamour for our attention, these forgotten  souls, uninterrupted by events,  explore the quality of universal indifference and, left to their own devices, see beyond this view and rest their gaze on some unsighted land.

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About Peter Wells aka Countingducks

Trying to remember what my future is
This entry was posted in character, community, creative writing, Environment, Life, Love, old age, Relationships, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

26 Responses to An Invisible Presence at The Birth

  1. What a sad thought and I’m sure its true for many. I hope my 85 year old mother never has to experience it although her phone is quieter now than it used to be.

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  2. catterel says:

    Oh dear, this brought tears to my eyes. I see this so often nowadays – it’s the main reason that I am still staying with my 97-year-old mother (almost 2 years now). She isn’t ready to join the row of empty-eyed old folk lined up in chairs just waiting to fall off their perch, which would be the alternative if I were to go home. But when you outlive all your friends, there’s nobody left who really cares.

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  3. But care we must. Because as assuredly as those who ponder the seeming eternity of Indifference patiently, or not, await their final fate, one day so must we. We constantly wish for it and yet ignore the gift when we glimpse the future. Learn from what you see and from that build a better fate for those yet to come.

    Good morning from the Pacific Northwest, my friend, Mr. Ducks.

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  4. desertrose7 says:

    There is so much truth in this that it made me feel uncomfortable. Uncomfortable because it is something I think deep down, most of us fear for ourselves. Well, I do anyway, I admit that.
    I worked as a nurse in aged care for a few years when I was very young. I saw nurses going through the motions of “care”. Hurry hurry….we’ve got rounds to finish! It was always a rushed affair. During my training I once took a patient outside on the veranda and sat with her for a few minutes talking. One of the sisters saw me and I got yelled at “We don’t have time to sit and TALK with the residents!”
    I didn’t see what she saw. I saw the things you spoke of in this wonderful….yet uncomfortable piece.

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  5. CKoepp says:

    As a teacher, I found some of the saddest moments were when Indifference showed up in the life of a child, not from the parents toward the child — that’s bad enough — but from the child to the rest of the world.

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  6. Oh this is so sad Peter, but beautifully written. From birth to obsolescence in a few paragraps and you nailed it.

    Both my mum and dad ended their days in “warehouses”, and although we were, as a family, there with them as often as we could be, every day in fact, and these particular warehouses were far better than some, we still had to leave them to stare into “some unsighted land”, feeling guilty and wondering if we could have done more, at the same time knowing that giving care 24 hours a day isnt doable when we have our own families to bring up, and yet they are our own families. Oh dear.

    This post moved me very much

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  7. Ina says:

    A sad thought! Homes should be comfortable and with caring caretakers who can make time for their clients, that is for sure. It would be best if old peoples homes were not needed, but I can’t see how else it should be done with everyone working. Indifference… or lack of time?

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  8. Barbara says:

    This is very sad, but very real. We are fortunate that my 95yr.old father in law has the means to live in a place with safeguards and caring staff. We do what we can, but it’s so sad to see him merely existing. I’ve already told my kids to be as kind to me as we’ve always been to our pets. There is nothing, I can see, to be gained by merely existing. When I can no longer contribute, I’m done.
    b

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  9. Rachael Charmley says:

    We know there is something very wrong with a society that overvalues youth and undervalues the elderly. I can only hope that there will be some fundamental shift in perception – but it won’t be in our lifetime. I have recently lost both my parents to dementia, and the horrors of neglect and abject disrespect, both in the care home and hospital, is truly depressing. But things ARE changing, as they must. The elderly have much to offer. Thanks for posting. x

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  10. mysending says:

    Thank you. We obviously need you to help us pay more attention.

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  11. Another perceptive and beautifully written post on one of the saddest facets of modern times. We are often told that other cultures value the elderly more so than we do in the West. Whether this is true I do not know for sure. However, when today both parents/partners in a household are expected to work by the government, gaining disposable income and paying taxes, it is inevitable that the elderly will find themselves in such ‘warehouses’ as there are fewer family members with disposable time to support them in their own homes and play an active role in their lives. Family and community cohesion is sadly becoming a thing of the past for many, which I lament.

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  12. Happy tears here. I am not alone in my thinking. Your kindheart soul confirms it in a delivery I could never match. Well said. Online does often feel like one more screaming hungry belly needing to be fed pronto. It’s a challenging place to maintain connections when every screen is so bright and intrusive, the ads and flash all wear on my eyes and trigger my PTSD. How I love the safe places online. Been missing your always insightful and safe pages, Peter. See you soon 😀

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  13. Chris Edgar says:

    I like that observation of the similarity between the condition of an infant and that of an elderly person when it comes to how others treat (and perhaps neglect) them — for me, ideally, when I look at a person in either such stage of life, I make an effort to look into their eyes and and get a sense of who they are and have always been, regardless of the appearance of their outer shell, even if verbal communication is not possible.

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  14. Rainee says:

    Very powerful piece Peter. It was scary how much I could relate to it 🙂

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  15. And the irony is that for all their ‘updates’ what exactly do the the youngest generations do if not stare at a tiny screen watching the doings of fatuous and futile celebs? When they reach the age of obsolescence what will they have to occupy their time? Sad thoughts, Peter, and it ain’t set to change.

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  16. Monica says:

    This is really powerful. Who are we? Our true nature certainly does manifest itself in those quiet, private moments with the powerless.

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  17. nelle says:

    I see this in life, I see it at work, saw it in my last profession. And I can’t help but think the greatest human failing is not taking fuller advantage of the knowledge one generation can hand off to the next, there to be built upon instead of rediscovered through a new round of trial and error.

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  18. This is an excellent piece, Peter. I live with my mom who is 84 and between us we keep life interesting and true to our characters and souls (even when the differences in us clash a little). I get so much from her, know I am lucky that her mind is clear and still eager for knowledge. I hope I can always care for her in our home. By the way, I love this: ‘It is in the uninstructed, unobserved moments of our lives, when we show our true nature.’ I think it says much about what so often inspires your writing.

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  19. Kavita Joshi says:

    very powerful truth you have woven into these words Peter…powerful and moving I must say

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  20. I used to teach gerontology (the study of aging and its effects on both the individual and society). This is a complex issue you raise. In this post-modern society with technology advancing so quickly, the one thing of value that older people have–wisdom born of experience–is rendered meaningless. Gadgets are outdated in a matter of months. When humans lived in times when things didn’t change much from one generation to the next, old people were highly revered and respected. Now, individual elderly may be held in high esteem due to sentimental reasons and for the oral history they offer, but that’s about it. Oh, there’s also what they have to offer by way of inheritance. 😉

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  21. poppy23 says:

    You can make people cry. So sad. So scary…

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  22. So very sad…and frighteningly true.

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  23. rod says:

    I may be elderly, though I have moved with the times a bit. Some years ago now, can’t remember when, I gave up the darkroom for digital editing. Even more marked for me was the transition from analogue recording to digital. It used to be possible – easy – to go out with a Nagra or Uher and record and edit a piece to broadcast quality in the field. All with tape, a chinagraph and and a blade. Making the transition to digital recording and editing was easy but – and it’s a big one – it came with a sad loss of physical skills. As for where this is all going to end, I have no idea, but thus far I have resisted the smart phone. My mother (97) still lives above us and keeps up with current affairs. She, too, has resisted the smart phone.

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