at a loss

I often dream of loss.

I have dreams where I’ve lost something tangible, like my wallet, for instance.

Or I’ve lost my way and am trying to get back on the path.

Occasionally, I’ve lost my footing and have that unsettling falling feeling that jerks me awake as I try to protect my real self from the pretend fall.

Or most often, I dream that I have no quiet space or privacy and I am eagerly searching for a place, any place in the oddness of the dream world, to find solitude.

You don’t have to have a Jungian certificate in dream analysis to see what is going on in any of those dreams.

But what am I looking for in my waking life that compels my sleeping self to create these nightly searches for that which is lost and cannot be found?

Poet and philosopher, David Whyte, says that half of all human experience is mediated through loss and disappearance.

Whyte ponders the impact of loss:

“if you have a really fierce loss, the loss of someone who’s close to you, the loss of a mother, a father, a brother, a sister, a friend, God forbid a child — then human beings have every right to say,

Listen, God. If this is how you play the game, I’m not playing the game. I’m not playing by your rules. I’m going to manufacture my own little game, and I’m not going to come out of it. I’m going to make my own little bubble. And I’m going to draw up the rules. And I’m not coming out to this frontier again. I don’t want to. I want to create insulation. I want to create distance.”

So with what do I create that distance in my life? With what do I fill my moments, my hours, and my days to enable me to avoid the conversation with myself about those painful disappearances, those deep vulnerabilities and the big and even little losses?

How challenging it is to turn off and turn away from the numbing distractions and look into those dark, vulnerable places where I genuinely live in a life where half of it involves some kind of loss.

  • Can I notice that what I hope for is not always what can be and not despair?
  • Can I despair and not close my eyes, my heart, my skin to the groaning discomfort?
  • Can I acknowledge the inevitably of my own demise and of those closest to me, without shutting down or numbing out?

“Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn
anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive
is too small for you.”

Here’s to finding the courage to look into the dark eyes of loss and bravely return its unwavering gaze.

 (Check out Krista Tippet’s conversation with David Whyte at On Being)