Sometime last year, I lost my desire to write this blog anymore. But this morning, I woke up and found it again. It occurred to me that life is just one big lost and found; we lose something, we find something, we carry on either way.
Last year I lost some things that I really wanted to keep. A friend I met on our very first day of Kindergarten, who has been like a sister to me ever since, moved away. For decades our paths have traveled side by side; we lived around the corner from one another in upstate New York as children, then we lived up the block from one another in Manhattan, and eventually we both moved to New Jersey and lived in parallel towns. Her move was a good one for her—to a place up north that she has always loved. But it left me with an emptiness.
A few months later, the husband of another dear friend died, a man I have known for many years. Although this man, with his far-right-wing politics, often drove me nuts, his absence on the planet feels wrong. It feels like, and is, a loss.
Last week, my youngest son moved out to an apartment. This was the icing on the proverbial cake of loss, because I have so enjoyed having him home after his years at college. But it’s time for him to move on, and I understand that. Empty nest syndrome, however, is a real and difficult passage. I went through it once when he left for school, and now I must go through it again. At least, this time, he has left me his pet fish (at least, temporarily!).
I’m aware that everyone has loss in their lives and that some losses are huge and can never, ever be filled. I “lost” both my parents decades ago, and there is no way of ever retrieving them, except in memory. And I do try to look on the bright side; for instance, the loss of my son in my daily life also means I have more space, more solitude, and more freedom. And though I have lost some things this year, I’ve found others. I’ve found a new place to teach yoga, I’ve found a new courage to travel, and I’ve found a way to get on Route 4 (a road in NJ I’ve avoided for years) and drive without freaking out.
Long ago, another friend taught me the prayer of St. Anthony: “Good Saint Anthony, come around, something’s lost and must be found.” This works quite well for car keys and earrings, but not so much for friends and family who have moved on or moved out. But I realize that when we lose some things, we often find other things of great value, and if we wallow in the losses we close ourselves off to new experiences. Regardless of what we lose and what we find, however, there is something that must never go missing: Acceptance. Without it, we can neither let go of what must leave, nor embrace the unknown gifts that will come next.