“Leaving behind” is like a taboo statement. We don’t want to talk about it much or not at all if possible. As a child I often dreamed of being left behind by people or events: my mom, teachers, classmates, going somewhere by bus or train and being left behind after I went down at one of the momentary stops, sitting for an exam and finding I had gone to a wrong exam hall which was empty, arriving too late for the school bus and everyone had left for a picnic, participating a school concert and found that there was no participants and no audience…Later as a young adult I had recurring dream of being left alone and stranded in a formal wedding hall without the other party turning up for the formal ceremony. I also dreamed of traveling on a train and having to keep walking from coach to coach to find the one who had promised to meet with me and traveled together for life! It was a forlorn feeling.
I recall reading a book by D.H.Lawrence, Sons and Lovers, Chapter 15 which is titled “Derelict”. It gives the feeling of being left behind. The mother died. The son decided not to marry a girl who loved him. She went to college. There are two portions to the “left behind”. A portion that goes away. And a portion that stays. Here are definitions that describe the two portions. The two portions are inseparable. One cannot exist without the other. When we talk about being left behind, there must be something or someone who has left. The two parts are actually together. What irony!
Anther ironical puzzle for those interested in mental health and psychology is that I actually grew up well balanced and heathy. I excelled in academic studies and profession. So the dreams were not really premonitions. Did they reflect my deepest fear? Looking back I see that they did in some cases. I did not fear exams or interviews. While I enjoy being alone most times, once in a while I like to have company too. Knowing I am loved despite being alone is essential for my well being. The physical solitude does not reflect the state to the soul and the spirit.
Derelict: Abandoned, forsake; given up or forsaken by the natural owner or guardian; (of a ship) abandoned at sea, dilapidated, neglected; (of a spacecraft) abandoned in outer space.
Relic: That which remains; that which is left after loss or decay; a remaining portion. Something old kept for sentimental reasons.
Here is a passage quoted from SparkNotes on the “Derelict” chapter in Sons and Lovers:
Paul is lost without his mother. He can no longer paint, and he puts all of his energy into his work at the factory. He has debates within himself, telling himself that he must stay alive for his mother’s sake. However, he wants to give up.
One Sunday evening, however, he sees Miriam at the Unitarian Church. He asks her to have supper with him quickly and she agrees. She tells him that she has been going to a farming college and will probably be kept on as a teacher there. She says that she thinks they should be married, and he says he’s not sure that would be much good. He says he does not want it very much, and so she gives up. That is the end between them. She leaves him, realizing that “his soul could not leave her, wherever she was.”
Paul, alone, yearns for his mother and considers following her into death. However, he decides to leave off thinking about suicide, and instead walks toward the town.
The Things We Leave Behind