To say that 2015 took a lot out of me would be an understatement. It seemed like the pattern was to lose things. People. Places. Organs. Well, one organ –– which had to be literally taken out of me. The others were really of the metaphorical sort, their departures imagined at best, but the voids they left sometimes felt so expansive that the idea of placeholders seemed so wonderfully tempting, I gave in.
 
Still, I kept losing. I lost the reckless confidence in myself perhaps possible only in youth. I lost faith in humanity quite a couple of times. I lost sight of how in the grand scheme of things, there will always be bigger losses, but these do not necessarily invalidate mine. I lost love in possibly the most clichéd, gut-wrenching way (but oh, you’re still young! –– I lost how that statement once seemed logical, too.) I then lost the ability to forgive myself for the tendency to needlessly lament. I lost opportunities because I waited too long. I lost all remaining notions of self-restraint after. I lost people to my impatience or timing or geography or the magnanimity of an outright refusal to remain.
 
But as Elizabeth Bishop wrote, “so many things seem filled / with the intent to be lost / that their loss is no disaster.” So I suppose I am fine. And I’ve been fine –– most days.
 
What got me through the rest was how people kept telling me to be good to myself, in spite of how at times I became aware only of the gnawing absence of reasons to be.
 
I found that most of the time, the enterprise of being good to yourself requires merely an acknowledgment of the assortment of objects that came and occupied the spaces now rendered free-for-all. Perhaps a new job that everyday despite your troubles makes you consider the big picture. Maybe another shot at a degree, which, combined with said job, reminds you that all you’ve ever wanted was to make the least bit of difference. A new friend. A new mentor. A new love. How these three can somehow come together in one new person, too. Tidbits of information you’ll hopefully find a use for one day: like how the universe apparently hums in B flat, how in Tamil there is a word for fake anger during a lovers’ tiff called oodal, or that Puttanesca sauce and the ease with which it’s prepared originates from how in 18th century Naples as in today, a puttana only had so much time in her hands. You marvel at your new appreciation for accomplishments in all packages, whether it is developing a skin regimen, finishing a manuscript or finally admitting you need help. You feel this new overwhelming sense of gratitude for the slightest stirrings that happen in the darkest of evenings, whether it is rage at the injustices that prevail or the ability to want things again despite perpetually losing, and indeed losing again, this time “farther, faster.”
 
Happy new year, friends. May we all come across more marvelous things, remember how loss is ineluctable, but go in with full force, anyway –– if only for the fun of it.
 

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 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.
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