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Entries in The Art of Losing (1)


Autumnal Reveries

  I am seriously prone to dreaminess and this tendency has only intensified this autumn. At present, I find the contemplation of anything other than the rippling shadows across the trees, or the warm winds that blow dry leaves into my earl grey, to be a bit of a drag. Rather than gathering my proverbial nuts, I feel like laying about under the kumquat tree with Jasper and watching the intricate light shifts across the meadow. I'd like to say I'll make a kumquat marmalade, but probably I'll just talk about it. The last tomatoes in the garden will either be eaten by us straight off the vine or stolen by the chickens, but they certainly will not be canned. Aside from the usual chores of living, I feel capable only of noticing the gravity that this season's light gives to everything it touches. The low angle of the sun creates mesmerizing shadows on my wall as the remaining redbud leaves flutter in the wind outside of my window.

 As things will, this blog post has taken me weeks to complete and now I find myself in the part of Autumn that seems to carry a heavier weight. Bare branches reveal themselves where only a week ago dogwood leaves fluttered translucent in the sunlight. Halloween and Dia De Los Muertos have passed and now we are looking more directly at the dark winter months to come. It happens very naturally around this time that old grief seems to surface and without the distraction of summer activity, asks to be looked at again.

 For me, this seasons focus has been relaxing into the letting go. My brother, Josh, who died ten years ago, seems to always be at the edge of my consciousness right now. Each time he makes a visitation I am reminded of another aspect of the pain of our separation. How I wish he could meet my child and how unbelievable it still seems that I will never again be able to witness his Cheshire cat grin in the flesh. It is interesting to me how grief works. One may go on for years feeling a certain amount of acceptance about a loss and then a stray memory or realization will capsize the whole acceptance boat. There is nothing to do but float for awhile in those feelings until the calm returns and you can climb back in your boat. It does seem to get a bit easier somehow, but I think that is less about the waters being calmer and more about learning to go with it.

  Because, if there is one thing we can be sure of, there will be more loss. I leave you with a poem by Elizabeth Bishop that has been passed about many times but always still feels fresh to me.

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, but 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