Thursday, June 30, 2011

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

If there's one thing I know how to do, it's leave.
I'm not saying I do it well; there are always strings left untied and stories left untold.  Someone is always missed in the goodbyes, because no matter what, there's never enough time.  It's not gotten easier, even though I've had practice.  My childhood was a process of moving between parents, leading up to my eventual self-dismissal to (artsy) boarding school eight hours away.  I left there, too, when I graduated and moved to college.  Not once, but four times (yes, four colleges in five years).  I haven't spent more than a single year in one place since sophomore year of high school, eight years ago.  Two continents, multiple sets of friends, and multiple people I thought I couldn't live without.  Two months from now, I do it again.

So tonight, briefly, I want to talk about change.  We've all gone through it.  We've all lost friends or continents, have all practiced the "One Art," as Elizabeth Bishop so wisely states.  But like all arts, it's one that requires practice, dedication.  We must be willing to lose the parts of our self that don't work.  We must strive to find "beauty in the breakdown" (thank you Imogen Heap).  Because it seems, to me, that things are their most vibrant when we're about to lose them.  The sun sets, and moments before it fades, everything is blazing with life and glory.  We are illuminated by the beauty of something's passing.  Change let's us embrace the beauty for what it is; otherwise, we just get bored.

That's not say changing or losing or leaving is fun.  It's not easy.  Hell, it's terrifying.
So what do we do about it?

We can, of course, hold on to everything.  We can grip the grass beneath our feet and swear we'll never move.  And we won't.  We'll stay where we are.  We won't change even as the seasons pull and the world spins and the stars scream promises above our heads.  We'll be the same person we were when we first opened our eyes.
We'll have learned nothing.

Or, we can embrace the descent, become the artists of our own loss.  We can jump into the void, willingly, arms spread wide.  Who knows? we might fall flat on our face.
Or--even more terrifying--we might just find the wings we forgot we had all along.  Letting go could be taking hold of everything.

So, my questions:
What are the things in your life you want to change?  What are the changes you'll make?
What do you fear will never change?
What will you do when it does?


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  2. We are really grateful for a writer like you Alex.And not matter where life takes you....Do all your readers a favor and continue to be awesome,because you are great at it!

  3. You've save my whole life... twice.. thank you .. for all this!.