Gaining from loss

“You can never lose anything that really belongs to you, and you can’t keep that which belongs to someone else.”   Edgar Cayce

So, DAY FOUR, Writing 101 Challenge

We’re writing about loss, and maybe serializing it, making it a repeat, or regular topic.

These assignments sound so exciting when I read about them, but am finding it a challenge to get on paper what’s in my head. Fortunately I just read a tip from author Khaled Hosseini that “The writing you end up with is an approximation, if you’re lucky, of whatever it was you really wanted to say.”

Anyway, loss. My life’s been as filled with loss as anyone’s and that could be very depressing to delve into, as it has been while I was looking at it with one eye shut. Now that I’m about living in the moment, not dwelling in the past, I’m learning to see with both eyes, with more clarity.

When my mother died, a wonderful woman whom I loved dearly, and it felt as if I would miss her sorely, the thought popped into my head that I’d been missing her even when she was here! She hadn’t really been available to me, at least not in the way I felt I needed it. A body was gone, a voice over the phone, a person to give me identity as a daughter, to send Mother’s Day cards to, but she wasn’t helping me get through the day.  Of course she was doing the best she knew how, but I mention it as to show how we get sentimentally attached to people, things, and traditions without assessing how much they’re really adding to our lives. Not that every loss is something or someone who wasn’t good for us, but like notes in a piece of music, flowers blossoming and then falling off the plant, everything is with us for a time, we don’t know how long, and we can only cherish it while it’s here and look for the next blossom.  And maybe more importantly, give them all their space.

When I was feeling a great sense of loss over the deaths of so many really close friends, beginning right out of college, it finally dawned on me, nothing had happened to me, I wasn’t the one who had died.

We humans don’t like change, and loss of anything means change. Going forward. It’s scary.

Every now and then I get into a conversation with people, usually women, about years gone by, time passing, youth fading. Except even when I was in my thirties and looked back, I realized I didn’t want to walk that road again. Too much ignorant innocence, too much I didn’t know then that I do now. And unfortunately I was only going to learn it by going through it. I figure that’s what this life is all about, getting past ignorance, convention, attachment to our limited sense of life’s possibilities. Breaking out of what I call this bubble of a planet to realize the infinitude of Being.  Sort of like Truman breaking out of that artificial world in “The Truman Show”.

It’s probably always painful, unless we gain a higher view. This quote from Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon gives a hint, about loving and clinging:

“You think he belongs to you because you want to belong to him. Don’t. It’s a bad word, ‘belong.’ Especially when you put it with somebody you love. Love shouldn’t be like that. Did you ever see the way the clouds love a mountain? They circle all around it; sometimes you can’t even see the mountain for the clouds. But you know what? You go up top and what do you see? His head. The clouds never cover the head. His head pokes through, because the clouds let him; they don’t wrap him up. They let him keep his head up high, free, with nothing to hide him or bind him. You can’t own a human being. You can’t lose what you don’t own.”

Our sense of loss is usually associated with our sense of ownership and entitlement. It’s mine. Maybe an American or a Western thing, I don’t know, but just about everything on the planet is ours on loan. Each of our loved ones, including our children, is here working out their own salvation, learning their own lessons, independent of us. If they go, there was somewhere else they had to be.  Loving them is letting them.

I remember learning I had to let my mother learn what she needed to learn and not impose my ideas of how she should spend the latter years of her life.

So, from my newly accepted focus on the Now, the Present, I’m trying to love and appreciate what’s here, this note, this flower petal, this friend, and expect a new and different one when they move on.

“…As the great Confucius said, “The one who would be in constant happiness must frequently change.” Flow. But we keep looking back, don’t we? We cling to things in the past and cling to things in the present…Do you want to enjoy a symphony? Don’t hold on to a few bars of the music. Don’t hold on to a couple of notes. Let them pass, let them flow. The whole enjoyment of a symphony lies in your readiness to allow the notes to pass…”   Anthony de Mello

This is a very rich topic, all of us have to deal with a lot of loss from the trivial to the devastating. I’d love to start a discussion about it, focused on how to turn the sense of loss into gain, growth, advancement.

If you’d like to weigh in, please comment below. Perhaps I’ll try to blog about it every week, see where it takes us.

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3 Responses to Gaining from loss

  1. zentalfloss says:

    Dear Sandra – yes this is very rich and deep topic for all of us. But especially as we get older. I, too, have lost a number of friends in recent years. I feel so sad and yet, it’s true that my loss of them is not the same as their loss of life. Helps put loss in perspective. I also had a mother who was not that available to me growing up. Now that she is nearly 80, we are in some ways closer, but in others, it’s still the same. I do not know what I will feel when she’s gone! The conventional thing is sadness and missing her, but in fact, like you, I was “missing” her for a long time. So what will death bring? Maybe closure. And maybe that’s enough.

    Great post!
    Laura

    • Sandra says:

      Thanks Laura. I felt it was way too long and not sure if it would resonate, but appreciate hearing someone else understood the “missing them” while they’re right here. It’s on the one hand sad, but on the other hand, am learning more about myself, my own inner resources the Universe provides, the real caretaker.

  2. Pingback: Willing to be surprised | Reflectingpool …

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