Practice Losing Farther, Faster (Elizabeth Bishop)

The other day we came across the shorn trunk of huge tree that had been taken down by the Parks Department. We looked close and tried to count the rings but got lost in the swirls and changes in its three-foot span. We imagined what it had witnessed all those hundreds of years.

It is one of those everyday losses that reminded us of others, and of the Elizabeth Bishop poem “One Art“* that makes us think loss may be the practice life demand’s most.

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.
We like the idea of practicing loss, as though true Buddhists:

YES we’ll practice small losses, faster! and not be thrown by them, especially as we grow older and loss/change becomes the theme…

Or we will celebrate them like Eddy Kenzo’s joyful Sitya Loss (“I’m Not Afraid of Losing”). The gist: DANCE, and find joy anyway. (Video link HERE.)


…we know that, as “One Art” describes, there are levels of loss that are our greatest challenge to master.

Bishop gives direction to navigate the wound: “Write it!”Make art! Creativity is the balm and connector…

2 Responses to Practice Losing Farther, Faster (Elizabeth Bishop)

  1. Lace Bencivengo 04.15.2016 at 12:17am #


  2. Sally Schneider 04.18.2016 at 9:34am #


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