When you love something you take the risk of feeling loss should you lose it.
I went on my daily morning walk around Wash Park today. I assumed it was going to be a sunny day, so I brought along my Ray Ban sunglasses. A short way down the path, I realized I didn’t need them and put them in my coat pocket (with no zip closure). As I did, I thought to myself, “Don’t lose these.”
After a brisk two and half mile walk around the park, I took my walking shoes off, placed my ballet slippers on to drive home. Reaching for my glasses, I found emptiness. Nada. I had dropped them along the path!
I drove a bit around the park because I thought it might be at the spot where I stopped and performed some stretches. They weren’t there. And so, in my slippers, I decided to traverse the path again (all 2.5 miles). As I went, I scanned the path. I also stopped walkers along the way asking, “Have you seen a pair of Ray Ban’s on the path? I just lost them.”
People are helpful and friendly. They all said no, but they would look for them. Since I was going in the opposite way, I figured if they did find them, I’d essentially meet them on the other side with them as hopeful scouts looking along with me.
I love those Ray Bans- I’ve bought cheap sunglasses before and these are prescription for reading. As I was scanning back and forth and walking even faster than I had the first time around, I thought about loss. A sock was on the path (who loses a sock while walking or running?!); a bandana was tied in a tree branch overhanging the path; and my glasses were somewhere.
I looked suspiciously at the squirrels and geese. They could pick up a pair and take them off! But I dismissed this as a possibility. Though there was the time when I was feeding a mother squirrel mixed nuts out of a small glass dish, and she stole the nuts and container taking them high into a tree!
I begin to think about the things we hold dear and in losing them, how we know some of those things cannot be replaced. Some things we may be sentimental about even though there is not a lot of monetary value to the item. And when we lose these items, we have to eventually make peace or find a replacement (I’m heading to the optometrist for a new pair today!).
But some things cannot be replaced: relationships, lost love, an opportunity to go or be somewhere or with someone. It usually involves people or timing.
I lost a good friendship this past year. And I lost a new friendship today due to things going on in this person’s life. Loss can be painful and definitely doesn’t usually make sense.
I was not upset about losing my glasses today. I knew they could be replaced even though next time, I will be more careful and not put them in a pocket without a zipper. As I walked, I mostly kept asking myself how I could make the loss a benefit to me.? What could I get from this careless act of mine? Mostly I gave myself compassion and a sense of optimism as I walked.
As I came across the same people who I had stopped on the other side of the park, they all asked me if I had found the glasses. I was touched that I was making a connection with them. There was a bit of camaraderie in the search for the lost item.
But losing people or time with them is not so easily thought of as a benefit. I think it is because we hurt in our heart and believe we will never have that experience again, ever. I won’t have that best friend that I could tell everything to. I won’t have the joy of being with that person and interacting in ways that our two personalities act with each other. And the memories made that were fun and good have an edge of cruel sadness to them.
Because we don’t believe we can experience that goodness quite like we did before, we attach more meaning of loss. To put it simplistically, imagine going to Paris, France and having the most amazing meal of your life: foie gras, duck, souffle’,and champagne. As you board the plane to come back home, you think, “I will never be in that restaurant in that time again with that person and that experience.”
Perhaps not, and even trying to duplicate it once you are back home may feel flat, like day old champagne. So what do you do? You take a deep breath and then, you find another joy. It may be a tiny one; not big enough to fill the hole that was left by a big loss, not nearly enough.
Yet as I walked around the park, at first optimistic I would find my shades, I was also trying to find some tiny joy if I didn’t. What would it be? Talking to more people on the path then I ever have? Seeing details on the path I have never noticed? (And yes, I did ask one squirrel if he knew where my glasses were.)
I miss my new friend. I miss my old friend. Both of these events are out of my control. How do I begin to fill the spaces of loss? I may cry at first. I may be angry or feel wronged. But eventually, I feel blessed to know them. And then I can bless them. And then I can expect other good people to come into my life. And this may take a long time. That’s okay. Just a tiny movement forward is all I have in that moment.
I don’t know what is to lose a loved one though death. That’s a harder loss to wrap my head and heart around. I do know people who have and still miss their loved one very much, but whether it is telling a story about them or holding something sacred in their heart’s memory, they can find a way back to a sense of joy in their life.
Listen, I don’t have the corner on this. I can’t measure loss and say this or that formulae will take the pain away; I just know we have to make the steps on the journey- just like I did today. We may not find exactly what we have lost, but we will find something else; and perhaps it will not erase the pain entirely, but perhaps it will bring us a gift of knowledge and enlightenment about the journey. And that is the upside of loving something and the risk of losing it.
I return to add a post note to this blog- I went for my walk the next day after the loss of my ray bans. Guess what I found on the path??? No not my glasses but a pair of someone else’s lost glasses!
They were a cheap and colorful pair. I picked them off the middle of the path and placed them on the side in hope the owner might come back and look for them again.
I laughed out loud and thought another lesson for me! Loss of my glasses resulted in showing me that God will provide if we trust. And yes, I bought a new pair of ray bans (gulping at the price).