mad in pursuit notebook


"Accept Loss Forever"

Pat and I are both listening to Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg. In it, she quotes one of Jack Kerouac’s rules for writing: “Accept loss forever.” Pat balked at this, so I had to stop and think.

Seems like there are two ways of “accepting loss.” (1) Say goodbye, close the book, move on. Forget about it, no regrets. But that feels like a hole. By a certain age, your soul may be a Swiss cheese — too many people, too many experiences carved away forever.

But (2), if you accept loss like you would accept a gift, it becomes a part of you. Instead of being a pain, an obsession, a hole in your soul, it becomes part of your eco-system, part of the earth you stand on. The rich compost for your garden.

I made a short list of losses: my dad, smooth young skin, long hair, scuba diving, friendships that have faded, a night under the stars with Jim in the Himalayas, etc. Under definition (1), this could make me very sad — material for a good sobbing cry. But I prefer (2). All the things I’ll never do again, all the people I’ll never see — they aren’t lost. They are part of who I am.

(The trick, of course, is making your garden grow — taking those gifts and using them creatively, for the good of yourself and other.)

Nov 14, 2011