I wish you a year “rich in loss.” I believe that’s a good thing, but requires explanation:
I lost two good gal friends in 2016. One left the planet; the other moved to another city. Never being able to see someone you love again may be one of life’s major endurance tests. Yet, seeing a dear friend sporadically, when for over a decade regular get-togethers were a must, tests one’s will, too. While one friendship was definitely over; the other tantalizes with false hope, tempting to ignore the rabid reality that things will never be the same. A loss dressed up in fancy clothes is, unfortunately, still a loss.
This 1-2 punch happened in the spring—ironically the time of new beginnings—and took their good old time to teach their lesson. Grieving, ruminating, I finally got it: Life is loss. Pure. Simple. Irrevocable.
Life is Loss became my mantra for the rest of 2016.
So, I wasn’t surprised to read opinions about the loss of our democracy after the election. What do we expect? That such an experiment was without risk and couldn’t be snatched away as quickly as getting pick-pocketed on a bustling New York City avenue? One swift bump by an opportunistic predator, and off balance, we suddenly realize we lost both our money and our identity, figuratively speaking.
What did you personally lose in 2016? And losing weight may count if you want it to—some loses are actually gains, right? Over the past year I lost respect for a few people. This loss helped me learn a lot about my own hypocrisy and a little about my integrity as well.
I lost a pair of gloves, grey suede that were dear to me, not for their fabric but because my mother, whom I lost in 2011, gave them to me. I lost trying to understand my husband’s fascination with the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I lost a few more layers of self-judgment when I skip a yoga class.
Loss punctuated the path this year and will again, of course, in 2017. I hope to pay stricter attention in 2017, though. While gains championed my existence; losses instructed about life.
In her wise, eloquent book, A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit writes,
“There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element. Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control. Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before. The material falls away in onrushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake. Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.”
So, now as I wish you a 2017 “rich in loss” you will know what I mean, and hopefully, enjoy practicing the art of letting go.
Copyright, Gloria DeGaetano, 2016. All rights reserved.