Thursday, December 20, 2012

Weird introspection at the year's end

So, being weirdly introspective today, I am looking back over 2012, and I have to say it has certainly been a roller coaster year. What I thought would be a year of some major healing didn’t quite turn out that way. The poem “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop (a poet whose influence on me has been the longest-lasting outside of George Herbert and Gerard Manley Hopkins) might be the most apt summation for the year: loss is a diffuclt lessons to learn, but the fact is, loss is not always a bad thing, nor does it always a disaster. Ulcers, a concussion, a car accident, set-backs and frustrations and various other kinds of loss both professionally and personally certainly were in abundance. And yet, in the midst of it all, the good things were exceptionally good: my congregation flourished in incredible and amazing ways, my 10th book continued to be somewhat successful, my 11th book was published, etc. Strangely, it all balances out. So, I guess EB is right: none of it was disaster. But certainly, after all is said and done, the art of losing really is not hard to master.


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 loved 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!) like disaster.

1 comment:

Catherine McMullen said...

Thank you...I did not know this poem.
At risk of sounding morbid--and I really do not mean it such--the older I get the more I feel loss. Stands to reason, right? It is not disaster because it is the human condition. Sometimes I think it is what links us to each other as humans.