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On Loss and Letting Go

March 7, 2006

It’s the universal human experience. Taxes you might dodge (for awhile), and you can do a decent job of avoiding death these days, but loss is the leader of common human experience. Everything that is added to our account is temporary; withdrawals will outpace deposits at some point in time.

And maybe this is the point: to learn to deal with loss. To find some way to gracefully, gradually let go of all of the good stuff that we’ve been given, until we lay back and let our little flame be extinguished. Not that it’s easy.

Like my buddy who — after a massive head injury– can’t smell or taste anything. Of course, we’re all glad that he’s alive and upright and intelligent and all of that, but this really sucks! Now it’s not exaclty life and death, but I think it would make me think about an early exit from this world. Scotch=beer=water? 7-11=Starbucks=Peet’s? Pizza=pita=pancake? Michel Richard=McDonald’s? Perfume= putrid? Fresh denim=dumpster? I’m sure it comes in handy when you’re driving behind a bus or changing a diaper or surfing on the West Coast, but it is a huge sacrifice. And it pisses me off.

Or my friend who lost her beloved mother a couple of years ago. A sudden and unexpected and catastrophic loss, and one which came much too early. How do you go on? What are you supposed to do? Can we just be sad forever? How in the world can we prepare for the next loss? I feel like fighting someone about it, but that seems pointless.

I know it sounds depressing, and I guess it is, a little. But what if the point of our time on this globe is to learn to let go? And what if that’s not so bad, after all? And what if our culture’s obsession with cutthroat consumerism and rampant acquisition is simply some kind of attempted denial of this basic fact?

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5 Responses to “On Loss and Letting Go”

  1. Mike Croghan says:

    Sounds like wisdom to me, my friend.

  2. Mike Croghan says:

    The Buddha said that one of our core problems (perhaps our very core problem, or at least the deepest one besides spiritual ignorance) is what he called “attachment” or “grasping”. It’s not that we have things that causes us to suffer and sin – it’s that we are overly attached to them, we grasp them tightly, we clutch them crazily because we fear their loss. I think this is actually close to the Judeo-Christian concept of idolatry.

  3. Mike Croghan says:

    One more thought in my impromptu “series”. :-) The Buddha thought that attachment was a deeper poison than anger, aggression, jealousy, etc. It preceeds them. I think that’s true too: we only get angry and violent when we’re afraid of losing something.

  4. randy buist says:

    After the Buddah (aka Croghan) has spoken, what more can I say?

    Well, Stavlund there is truth in your words.

    Blessings from God my friend.

  5. Brad says:

    Mike, I am not a consistent reader but I occasionally read your posts. Some other benefits of the condition of your buddy to consider: port-o-johns smell just fine, as do burnt popcorn and sopping wet running clothes! A sad set of similarities: whipped cream=crisco=shaving cream. (really)

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