Recently I listened to a man on TV say, “I have lost everything I’ve ever owned.” He was standing in a rescue boat treading through the muddy waters of a swollen river that had swallowed uncountable houses, people, and animals overnight. I cannot begin to imagine the enormity of such sudden and complete loss.
But I do know loss. We all do, and the longer we live the more of it we’ll suffer – a word that describes so well that desolate feeling we’re certain will never leave us. It surfaces not only when we lose the people in our lives who can never be replaced, but also when we have to accept that we can never reclaim any of our cherished years or some of the places and objects that were especially dear to us.
Rarely does anyone speak about the relief of loss or the consolation of loss, yet there are times when these terms are actually very apt. Those mixed feelings when you downsize your living space and give away or sell a great deal of what you’ve spent a lifetime acquiring include relief. You are, after all, moving into a new phase of life with fewer burdens. Consolation follows when you see some of your once valued possessions in use in the homes of your children.
In these later years, deliberately getting rid of things is a way to carve out a place in which our creative selves can operate more freely. I am presently trying to turn a crowded space into a more workable studio. It’s about one third the size of the one I had, so clutter is understandable. But a number of things are going to have to go including a massive curved desk that cuts the room in half. I gave away two easels and two more are in the shed. The one I’ve kept will have to accommodate both large and small work. The upside is that I now hope to become more focused and centered. I’m actually looking forward to losing that side of my younger self that moved frenetically from one project to the next and to taking more time to value all that I have left.