Can a verse stand alone, isolated in its metrical composition, without preceding or succeeding contextual delineations? Of what value can the singular have, without the surrounding aggregation of the whole? Like a scrap or fragment of a larger narrative revelation, of archaeologists and anthropologists working with but a piece of the greater story, the verse of 1-liners forever echoes for a harkening of others to join.
John Donne poetically captured the sense of that isolation, and Thomas Merton wrote a reflective narrative upon that very theme; but there we are, still left with the hollowness of an island’s separation, revealed by a lack, concealed by non-existence. We can, of course, always pretend that nothing came before, and there is no need for the after; but, somehow, such a vacuum of emptiness left alone in the quietude of a vast sea floating amidst the morass of a lonely singularity, doesn’t quite fit the narrative we all seek.
And it is not merely the personhood; it can be in the context of one’s past, where the currency of experiential encounters would lack meaning without an untold yearning for the future, and nothing to rely upon of what we recognize as the prefatory period of living. Perhaps that is why people seek to unseal adoption records and search for the origins of genetic lineage; of why hope for a more promising tomorrow is necessary for the healthy preservation of every human being; it is because, without a connection to the past, nor a window of hopeful vision for the future, human beings are left with being a mere verse of a 1-liner.
There are monks and hermits in lonely pockets of isolated caverns, where meditation upon the consciousness of self or the wider phenomena of collective discoveries is attained by deliberate seeking of a singularity for solitude’s sake, in hermitages jutting out from cliffs afar; but that is rare, much like the monophonic sacredness of the Gregorian chant, reverberating across the valleys of our own sense of isolation and despair.
Or, perhaps that verse of a 1-liner (note the singular grammatical ascription, now, as opposed to the plural as reflected in the title of this narrative) can possess a gemstone of wisdom, and in that event, it can stand alone in the strength of its own lack of plurality. But for the rest of us, we recognize that it is the support of the greater whole that gives meaning, purpose and relevance to the lives we mold and hope to embrace.
That is why, for Federal employees and U.S. Postal workers who come to a point of realization and recognition that the medical condition which developed, and which has come to a crossroads where the medical condition prevents the Federal employee from performing one or more of the essential elements of one’s Federal or Postal job, and therefore will cut short the career of one’s choice, the option to prepare, formulate and file an effective Federal Disability Retirement application with the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, whether the Federal or Postal employee is under FERS, CSRS or CSRS Offset, is a final admission that one will no longer remain as part of a greater stanza, but become separated as a verse of a 1-liner.
Isolation and separation are concepts alien to a social animal; and for the Federal or Postal employee who must file for Federal Disability Retirement benefits through OPM, that concession that the verse of 1-liners has arrived, is indeed a difficult line to accept, but nonetheless a necessary one.
Robert R. McGill, Esquire