The residual refrain: Introduction

Friday March 17, 2017

I don’t know what to say. Or maybe I don’t want to say it.

But I think it goes something like this….

Some people get a swan song when things end. Swan songers are the beautiful people – the ones with perfect or predictable lives. They are the ones who have closely followed social norms and followed a predictable path – college, marriage, dog, kids, car, house, career. They live a model life.

Swan songers make the rounds to say goodbye upon a conclusion to rapturous applause, accolades and a symphony of praise. It’s a finale fitting a life where melody, harmony and rhythm blend together for a Top 40 hit that resonates with the predictable.

But then there are those of us who receive the ‘residual refrain’ – those of us whose path in life, for whatever reason, hasn’t followed many social norms. Our endings receive nods of appreciation, or looks of “I told you so”, or pats on the back with “better luck next time”. Residual refrainers are not the beautiful people. Our paths are not predictable ones.

Let me explain further.

When you do not live a model life, you are more likely to end up with a residual. In any model, you have multiple factors that combine to predict a latent variable.

For example: Factor A (spouse) + Factor B (career) + Factor C (house) = Latent Variable (Your Life) .

Of course, this model is based on theory (and it would be more complicated with mediating and moderating variables and other stuff). It’s what you THINK will happen.

But then you get what actually happens. This difference between the predicted value (what you THINK will happen) and the observed value (what ACTUALLY happens) of that latent variable (YOUR LIFE) is the residual.

So when you think life will go one way, and it ends up another – you are dealing with a residual. And for those of us that this happens to repeatedly, well, it ends up a ‘residual refrain’.

So this trip is my residual refrain of life in Australia. It’s a short ride to say goodbye to the mountains of Victoria before I move back to America after 17 years. I don’t want to go. If I had no responsibilities to anyone but myself, I definitely would not leave. Everything, except my family, is here. But I do have responsibilities to them, so it is time to go.

I presently find the grief and loss overwhelming. I’m not sure if this ride will distract from, or compound, the loss of all that I’ve known for most of my adult life. But let’s go ride some roads and ranges that have been on our to-do list for awhile and see what happens.

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