October 30, 2008

one art



The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day.
Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, bit it wasn't a disaster.

—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

~ Elizabeth Bishop, 1976 ~


Loss is swirling through my head these days. How many things have I lost in my lifetime? And how much do I really miss those things? I have been fortunate thus far not to lose someone I love dearly, aside from the loss of my first love and my grandmother who died at 84. Those losses were inevitable and perhaps expected.

Right now I face the loss of a home I love dearly. I have always known that I would not live here forever yet I wasn't prepared to leave this home so soon. I keep reminding myself to feel gratitude for having been able to live here at all, for having my health and my family and a job that puts food on the table. There are worse losses than this. There are people who are suffering deeper losses: safety, freedom, shelter, ability to take care of oneself and one's family, nourishment, health. What are my losses in comparison?

I am thankful and I am grieving, too. I am grieving a loss that hasn't happened yet, thus I am not living in the present moment. Waves of fear are tossing me about like a raft on a turbulent sea. I have lost my equanimity. Perhaps my greatest comfort right now is knowing that this, too, shall pass.

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