Interpersonal pain, Frankl’s dread of ageing, and Momo

[continued from Ships & lighthouses after interruption and a bit random]


If loss is delusion because possession is delusion (at least of some abstract “things” like time) … what about the abrasiveness of interpersonal pain?

The jarring headache of mismatch, miscommunication, my old friend the glass wall (whether it’s autism, depression, emigration, queerness or all of these) … the intimate disappointments, nonsensical traumas that weren’t even anyone’s intention, the limbs we (or our parents) lost from being eaten alive by the machine, or the unfortunate moments of violence frozen in time that the child sees in their dreams even if everyone likes to think it’s over?

For a change, pain isn’t delusion.

It’s calming to know that, after decades of gaslighting.

Luckily, it seems also to be much less dangerous than delusion. That’s the impression I get lately. Emotional pain doesn’t in itself impair vitality; it can actually impart vitality, but only if the organism is strong enough to simply exist in its presence – a slow and complex skill to master if it hasn’t been handed down.


Dread of growing old, perhaps deciphered.

Maybe finally deciphered the enigma.

Dread of growing old that I started having … as a child? That got out of hand as a teen? In my twenties? That revisited forcefully at 33 sitting idyllically, enjoying the broad view of a mountainous valley in France, perhaps with wine in hand.


Obsessed with the facts it’s passing, that every passing minute is a loss.

Pain at that.

And unclear why. Why doesn’t everyone feel it?

Not only don’t recognise my face because it looks female; on top of that it’s starting to show just a tiny bit of age.

The same freakout at age 15 wasn’t about time. About age. About the body perhaps even. it was about growing (whether old or something else) as not me.

It wasn’t me-ness accumulating in my body over the years. It wasn’t the traces of my own being, my own actions and my own identity. It was something freaking else. It was empty time, still giving fruit in the body, but fruit that’s tasteless – so to speak – because age should perhaps be an accumulation of self. (As wrote Viktor Frankl in his foreword to Man’s Search for Meaning, I believe.)

I’m not sure what was accumulating in me instead.

Some sort of greyness, perhaps like the grey smoke of the grey men in Michael Ende’s novel Momo.


Michael Ende. Momo (1973)

… which novel is, incidentally, about time.

Time doesn’t seem to hurt when it’s passed honourably dwelling in one’s own nature. For me, the pain of losing time is perhaps the honking sound alerting me to the fact I grow up and old without being me, accumulating a life that isn’t mine and that shouldn’t be accumulated or can’t be accumulated in the living traces of the body.

Can I make the past mine, the time that’s already been passed without fully inhabiting this being?



Semi-related article: 

How to keep your balance across cycles of desire and disappointment


Works cited:

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Michael Ende, Momo


Musical canvas:


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