Last week, I learned that a pivotal person from my past had died. Yet, when I heard the news, I felt more emptiness than sadness.
Our history was decidedly mixed. He was in our lives the better part of a decade, responsible for moving us from Boston to Pennsylvania. Without that single act, I don’t meet my best friend, get the same education, marry my wife or have my children. Couple that with the financial security he eventually provided, there is much to be grateful for.
It is said that we should not speak ill of the dead. So I will not. I will only say that I spent too much of this period on edge and in fear.
We have a difficult time reconciling our mixed feelings. Few people or things in our life are entirely good or evil. Yet our darkest events can have outsized impact on much that follows. These personal black holes become a repository for our dark days and the people who contribute to them.
We do not approach them often for fear of getting sucked in. Therefore we have no means to bring our memories gently into the present.
Coincidentally, Stephen Hawking – the physicist who spent much of his life studying black holes – died on the very same day.
The New York Times obituary quoted Dr. Hawking as saying, “They’re named black holes because they are related to human fears of being destroyed or gobbled up. I don’t have fears of being thrown into them. I understand them. I feel in a sense that I am their master.”
It is a reminder that understanding is an antidote to fear.
It has been over thirty years since I last saw the man who no longer walks amongst us. On occasion, I have imagined what a conversation with him would be like. Perhaps it would have been a gateway to understanding.
Unfortunately, that opportunity is now gone and I regret not getting some sense of closure. Perhaps it would have brought us both a little peace.
I hope, if given the chance, you will be more like Hawking than I was. Become the master of your black holes. Your universe will be better for it