Thursday, October 6, 2011

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 beloved 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 it 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 too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) a disaster.


I'm usually careful with my personal belongings. Apart from the two rings that I accidentally left behind when I was using the school toilet few weeks back, I have lost my wallet once, but not my phone in my entire life - it is surgically attached to my hand.

There are times when I thought I lost my phone, either because it's always buried under the paraphernalia in my bag, or it's deliberately hidden by a friend who has nothing better to do. Every single time this happens, I find myself relatively calm about it. It doesn't mean that I am nonchalant about losing things; it definitely does dampen my mood. But firstly, no matter how long I spend whining about it, my lost item is not going to magically appear in front of me. Secondly, the loss of these material possessions pales in comparison to the loss of things that are of more importance, things that are invaluable, things that are priceless, and things that matter so much more. And we happen to call these things People.

I know loss. Loss of the best friend I thought I could ever find, because it seemed like both of us were too "busy" for each other. Loss of other blossoming friendships, because we are always too caught up with our own lives. Loss of a special someone, because you can't clap with one hand. Loss of people that sparked some romantic interest, because certain things just don't work no matter how much you want them to. Loss of other relationships and people, but I shan't go on.

I know loss. But I am fortunate enough to not know a loss that is life changing. Loss of an arm or leg due to an accident. Loss of hair due to chemotherapy. Loss of the ability to recall, to recognize, to speak, to hear, or to see. Loss of muscle function. The mere thought of someone like that is heartbreaking, how can I even imagine losing one of those abilities?

I know loss. But I don't know a deeper loss, such as death. At least, not yet. I have seen how people struggle to cope with such losses, how they still have to go through the motions of their mundane routines with a hole in their hearts. A hole that takes the shape of their loved ones, and no one can fill it. Why would they want anyone to?

I have lost many irreplaceable things, that making a big fuss over a missing phone, or anything for that matter, just doesn't seem like something I would do anymore. It seems relatively insignificant when I think about it. Just like how I stopped crying over movies for a period of time, because nothing seemed sadder than my break-up. Well, everything is relative I guess.

So anyway, I don't know how I ended up talking so much about this when all I wanted to say is, I feel like I've lost it again. And I will never know what you want the dried petals for anymore. Sigh. This has turned out to be just like any other, but the surprise is: how did you get here under my skin?

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