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Experiences

Mastering the Art of Losing

I haven’t been on this Earth for very long (22 years, which went by in the blink of an eye), yet I feel like I somehow have lived multiple lives, each filled with new experiences, connections, ever changing purposes and reoccurring fears. In every life I have lived, have gained something, be it a memorable lesson, a meaningful connection or a funny anecdote. In every life I have lived, I have lost something, be it hopefulness, a place, a memory, a certainty. It’s funny how contradictory loss can be – at first, when it hasn’t really caught up to you, it can leave a feeling of numbness, almost like a painkiller. Then it sneaks up on you quietly, discreetly, until the little reminders of what was lost become bigger, filling up the space around you. Progressively, you find yourself constantly reminded of what you lost, until you can’t avoid longing for what you parted with and not seeing what that loss has made space for. 

Whenever I feel overwhelmed with a feeling of loss (and in some way, grief), I think of what Elizabeth Bishop once wrote: 

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 

One Art 

Losing is indeed an art and I agree with Bishop when she says that with patience and practice, loss doesn’t have to be a catastrophe. 

It has taken me some time to learn how to deal with that feeling of emptiness showing up like an uninvited guest when I least expect it. Sometimes, the loss I experience is like Marie Kondo relentlessly trying to convince serial hoarders that they need to get rid of things that don’t serve them anymore in order to make room for new, more useful items; no matter how much I wish I could hold on to something, be it a hope, a place, a person, I know that eventually everything that is not meant to serve a purpose in my life will inevitably have to drift away. 

Whenever I get sucked into the spiral of building sandcastles on all the things that could have been, I remind myself that like a scar, what we lose doesn’t ever really disappear, but it changes us. One way or another — good or bad — whatever we experience in life leaves a trace and somehow stays with us, shaping our every move, choice and plan. 

Ally is majoring in Linguistics and minoring in International Studies. She loves to do yoga, pilates and take long walks down the beach. When she’s not studying, she’s probably baking a chocolate cake!
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