The Art of Losing

August 13, 2012 3 Comments »

Cartoon of a full house

I had to make a few trips to my storage unit while in NYC these past two weeks and it always puts me in a reflective state of mind.  There’s something about visiting all of my stuff boxed up in a small, sterile place, that tends to throw me emotionally.  I don’t really even have much stuff there in storage any longer, but it’s enough.  Whenever I go there and see everything boxed up I am forced with having to make decisions of what to take on my next trip and what to leave behind – and it paralyzes me for some reason.

As I was riding the subway back downtown, I came across this laminated poem that I carry in my day planner which goes everywhere with me.  A friend gave it to me a few years back and now it is included as one of the few things I always have with me – it seemed rather appropriate after my storage unit visit.

One Art

by Elizabeth Bishop

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 is 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 hard to master
though it may look like disaster.

In this same realm – I recently wrote about ‘losing’ a collection that had been dear to me as a child over at the website .  I think the act of losing is an important one to learn how to cope with in all of our lives.  And I continue to try to lose more and more every time I go to that storage unit – because none of that stuff really matters…losing it is far from a disaster…in fact in many ways I feel like I have turned the act of losing into an art form in my life.

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