The Anatomy of Loss

23 December 2009

Losing something is a curious process. As soon as one becomes aware of the loss, it becomes conspicuously present through it’s absence. The most typical example would be a phantom limb. The most common immediate reaction would be to replace the loss immediately, with no thoughts whatsoever to cost or alternatives. Frantic, ineffective searching is also high on the list.

Curiously, I have found lately that all of this applies perfectly to both people and small objects related loss. The former is of course the interesting of the two.

The interesting part would be to use the loss as a way to reflect on what the lost thing actually meant and was during it’s presence. Often, I find that the lost thing was something entirely different, and in that sense it was never really lost (although, it’s often a missed opportunity to explore what was really there all along). But this line of thinking is not very productive, because you very quickly come to the conclusion that it’s always impossible to know what the thing exactly was, and all the searching of what it was exactly will prove to be futile. I hope it’s obvious I’m talking about people at this point, and not about passports.

Lately, I’ve been noticing 2 different attitudes to loss of people: the ones that consider it a set back, and the others who see it as an opportunity. Can it still be called loss when you intentionally choose to do without some things, in order to create possibilities? An example would be a friend who decides to hitchhike without his fancy tent and sleeping bag, so he is forced to be creative and have experiences on the road. Another would be the philosophy of no gain with no loss (or more general, no pain no gain).

Personally, I have a pretty static world view and have the tendency to holds on to the things I have, as I’m relatively easily content. I don’t tend to make things difficult for myself as an act in itself.  I also spend a lot of time reflecting on the things lost, but I don’t consider that “lost” time. It’s time spend appreciating the things you have, or had. I’d rather have less things, but learn from them or use them to the fullest. I guess I’m an idealist and a hedonist. Although I’m losing a bit of the former.

What about you?