Loss is not as bad as wanting more
This quote really got me thinking!
Of course loss and gain are part of the natural ebb and flow of life, but it takes quite a step back to think that the worst of life’s losses could be ‘better’ than, well, anything. Yet even Lao Tzu, who wisely doesn’t usually judge things as good or bad, thinks that ‘wanting more’ is really very BAD.
To be human is to feel the pain of loss, and in the midst of that pain, it’s very hard to see loss in a positive light – let alone appreciate the gift it can be. Sadly, many of us have suffered seemingly unbearable losses in our lives, only they are eventually borne. Light (yang) does replace dark (yin) and the sun rises and sets every day. I say this, knowing that some losses seem unimaginable.
I’ve had times when loss has gripped me as gut-wrenching pain. I’ve been doubled over with it. Loss is painful, but pain passes. And when it does there is the opportunity to feel better, good even, and the perspective of knowing what it’s like to feel otherwise.
Wanting more, on the other hand, means never being satisfied. And when we want more we never really feel good, because there is always something better. Only there NEVER IS.
From loss, comes gain.
I’ve experienced the losses that are inherent in infertility – sorrow that stalks with every IVF failure, an ache that gets into your joints like arthritis, a sadness that dulls the senses and strips life of colour. I’ve been wracked with raw and ragged grief at the loss of a pregnancy. And I’ve felt that pain could not cut any deeper because it had already hit bone. (Geez I sound like a sook!).
“All adoption is formed through loss” – we were confronted with this harsh truth at our first adoption education session. It was scary, terrifying really, because it meant having to grapple with losses other than my own (and the attendant guilt over those losses, but that’s another long story). It was much more comfortable to simply think about the gains. But it was only in accepting the losses that are as inherent in adoption as they are in infertility and in life, that I could truly appreciate all that there was to be gained.
Later I came to understand there’s an alchemy that magically transmutes loss and pain into gain. The personal trainer’s favourite refrain ‘no pain, no gain’ is so true, and not just at the level of pushing yourself at boot camp.
I now see the loss of my pregnancy, of a little life that could have grown up to be a teenager by now (Aghh) as being transformed, so many years later, into the life of our son. Whilst we may still have adopted our beautiful daughter, there is no way we would have waited out the long process to adopt our son six and a half years later, had the baby we lost with my ectopic pregnancy been born. And I can’t really think of anything worse than not having our precious children. How could I want for more?
I came across this great quote by Pearl S Buck, whose writings on China and life I so admire. So if you’re still wanting more, this is, in fact, a two quote post!
“There is an alchemy in sorrow. It can be transmuted into wisdom which, if it does not bring joy, can yet bring happiness.” Pearl. S. Buck
Wanting more, what a waste
In wanting more, not only do we fail to make room for loss (let alone welcome it in our lives) we are so concerned with gaining that we can’t even appreciate what we actually have. We can’t be in the NOW. So we cannot appreciate the magic when loss transforms to gain, nor find comfort in the perspective that things will get better when we are in the midst of loss. Winning and losing are never mutually exclusive.
The gift of loss is the joy of gain, but we will never appreciate it if we only want more.
And I strongly suspect that contentment (or at least acceptance) is the magic ingredient in transforming our lives – It is in NOT wanting more, that we make room for gain.
Although I don’t profess to being an alchemist!
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