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Bodies and Voices
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
The Art of Losing Isn’t Hard to Master
So says Elizabeth Bishop in her superb poem, “One Art.” Here, she talks about losing small things – keys, her mother’s watch – as well as “three loved houses,” two cities, two rivers and even a continent. Bishop tells us right off that, “so many things seem filled with the intent/ to be lost that their loss is no disaster.”
I know that Bishop is right about how “the art of losing isn’t hard to master” because no matter who we are or how we live, we will lose things, and at an increasing pace, from a favorite pair of earrings today to a good friend next year to the ability to walk or speak clearly or remember.
And now for the hard part
Yet while the art is losing is largely bestowed upon us without much effort on our part – age and time will do the trick – the art of learning that it’s no disaster is the one hardest of all arts. How do we find the everyday goodness and reality of life amid big loss? How do we avoid a life-is-a-total-disaster mindset that will ensure disaster reigns?
I’m not talking here about true and real disasters, which would encompass not just communal and global tragedies but the true grief that can and will overtake us when we lose a beloved or a vital part of ourselves. That kind of personal grief to me feels analogous to disaster.
But then the dawn breaks, blue jays call to each other in their squeaky song voice, cicadas return for their once-in-17-year roar, and a breeze pours across us, reminding us that we’re alive.
Finding the keys
Instead, I’m pointing to how we live out the art of losing to seek – and find – whatever is opposite of disaster: joy, vitality, connection, and however we name the essence of being alive.
Yoga puts lost keys in my hand, showing me how simply breathing, being a body alive, struggling, stretching, reaching, strengthening, and at the same time feeling the weaknesses, edges, fears, anguishes, joys, openings and landings into the present.
Being alive? No disaster. Losing? Just part of being alive.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.