Saturday, 24 April 2010

Birth-Death Processes

Yesterday was a busy day, headspace-wise. On the one hand, it marked the second anniversary of Dr P's death. I know a lot of people (SpaceSquid Senior in particular) work on the principle that anniversaries are just coincidental match-ups in an arbitrary measuring system, but I've never agreed. The fact the date you choose to remember the people you've lost (and indeed, the people still with you) is irrelevant is not the same thing as the process itself being worthless. One of these days I'm going to get around to my planned pilgrimage to some of her favourite places, but for now I'll have to settle for my yearly donation to the RSPB. I don't think Dr P ever met a bird she didn't like, which is more than can be said for a lot of people she encountered.

On the other hand, yesterday saw the birth of what I think can be described as the first ever baby born to good friends (as oppose to colleagues or acquaintances, and I shall feel really terrible if it turns out I've forgotten someone). That really is mere coincidence, but nonetheless there is something attractive in the symmetry. Far more so than turning thirty last January, the birth of little Henry makes me feel like my generation is genuinely moving onwards, and starting to replace itself. I shall spare you the details of my musings on the subject, save to say that today was the first time it occurred to me that the increasing life expectancy of humanity and the increased age at which people choose to have kids may not be entirely uncorrelated. I'm sure that's a question that's been asked and answered by people smarter than me, of course.

So, in lieu of an in-depth discussion of the circle of life (it moves, as I understand it, us all), I figured I'd offer up two very different videos as two very different tributes. First of all, for Dr P, a song that was top of my playlist the day she died, and which has thus become entirely about her - not inappropriately, given it's message of living life to the full (think of it as my apology for all this moping, which would have pissed her right off):

Second, for the bean, one of the most beautiful songs I've had the privilege to hear. On those rare occasions when I stop to consider the possibility of having children of my own some day, this is the song that I imagine I would sing to them. Hopefully that process wouldn't traumatise them too greatly.