Bordering on Beautiful. Day 3.
The world I was born into is not the one I live in today. The twin towers are gone, the number in the “thousands” place has changed from a “1” to a “2,” and Pluto is no longer a planet. Our world thrives on dynamism. It is going to change, whether or not we want it to. Parts of our world will fall apart, and the re-creations will take on a life of their own. Some of the changes will be good. Apartheid ended the year I was born and J.K. Rowling produced a seven-part book series that made just about every kid pee his pants with excitement while waiting for the mail on his/her eleventh birthday.
Political scientists call this turnover creative destruction. In an active effort to boost my “Words with Friends” score, I have started to call this the Gotterdammerung. Ashley Wilkes references the Götterdämmerung (“The twilight of the Gods”) as the “Old South” falls apart in Gone with the Wind. The easy, summer-filled days Ashley knew gave way to years of famine, war, and eventual defeat. Like Ashley Wilkes, there will come a time when you will be living in a world you don’t understand.
In my early college years, I experienced a Gotterdammerung that changed the way I saw the world. In the space of two years, I lost my aunt to ovarian cancer, my adopted grandmother to the trials of old age, and my beloved puppy Chipo to an odd turn of the stomach. If there was an effective way to shout “as God as my witness, I will never experience hurt again,” I would have stolen that barely-altered line from the starving yet eloquent Scarlett O’Hara.
Like it or not (and very few people like it), we will all go through several Gotterdammerungs in our lifetime. For some of us, the Gotterdammerung will be the transition from childhood to adolescence. For others, it will come later, in the early onset of parental dementia. Before you realize your story has reached a positive climax, the fates will tip you into pages you don’t want to read, pain you don’t want to experience. I’ll post some tips about how to get through a Gotterdammerung tomorrow.
In the meantime, here’s the pronunciation of the word: