Loss · Uncategorized

On the Art of Losing

When I lost my sister ten years ago, I found a book of poems at a yardsale. I love poetry (English teacher) and reading them aloud. This particular poem is very special to me, because it can also be heard in the movie, In Her Shoes, a wonderful story about sisters based on Jennifer Weiner’s book, In Her Shoes. (She’s one of my favorite authors.)

The poem, “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop really encompasses some of the lessons that come along with life and grieving, upon being a part of the human species … at least, in my most humble opinion … In the movie Cameron Diaz ends up working in a nursing home and an elderly man asks her to read this poem to her. She struggles with reading, but in reading this poem (kind of cliche) she begins to see the words in a different way, to feel them more deeply, and to read easier. I will not spoil the story for anyone, because it is a story so dear to myself and I could not do it justice (read it or watch it!) but in the end Diaz reads this poem for her sister in a special way. It always makes me cry, but I love the way it calls upon how I feel in the case of my own loss.

I’m including the poem below, of course, and I hope that you will read it with heart and feel its meaning ❤

One Art

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.
Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. Copyright © 1979, 1983 by Alice Helen Methfessel.

I believe that Bishop’s words are true. In life we must accept losses: tiny and epic, life altering and simply annoying, losses are a part of us, and perhaps the sooner we learn to get along with them, the sooner we can find some inner peace.

4 thoughts on “On the Art of Losing

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