I’ve recently taken on this less than sparkly little habit of calling 2011 my Lost Year. Honestly, it seems that since I rang in the new year, I have made effort after unsuccessful effort to get my life going again. 2011 has been month after month trying to get a toehold, of trying to accelerate this little rocket back into the speedy trajectory that has been my life for the last few years. Since cancer I’ve been on fire, getting my business going, getting the kids happy and in good schools, getting my health back and running and weight on track. Up, up, up. Until this year. Until I lost this year.
In the million piece jigsaw puzzle that is my life, I have made a conscious effort in completing considerable parts of it these last years, giving daily attention and diligence to the task of knocking small sections out. Nearing fifty as I am, the frame was mostly finished, and little subsections here and there were completed. The big picture was all finally starting to come together and make sense. I actually began to believe in what was taking shape in front of me, and that I may actually live to see it be finished one day. I dared to imagine the possibility of a completed life, to believe that I might one day feel that tiny leap of internal gratification as the last piece was placed into the puzzle. I imagined myself smoothing my satisfied hand over it saying, “Well done girl, well done.”
Each night, I laid my little head on the pillow gratified and happy that more had been added, that more of the puzzle had been solved, and that my day had been used wisely. And by the end of 2010, one of the elusive pieces to this puzzle; (you know the piece you look for forever but was always right in front of you the whole time,) the piece that had worried me I may have died without, I thought was found. It seemed to fit.
And then, just like that, the puzzle got bumped. Some pieces fell off the table, and a bit of the frame was dismantled. After that, I lost interest in working the puzzle for some reason. I dunno, perhaps the next little section that needed my attention no longer interested me, perhaps what was left seemed too hard, like parts of puzzles that are all a solid color. Perhaps rebuilding seemed fruitless. Perhaps I grew weary of bending over to pick up lost pieces. A few pieces seemed lost; and I just never picked up the pace. Progress stopped.
I lost the year.
In these last few weeks, there has been a lot of talk swirling around me about loss, as a faraway friend is losing her mother, another has lost a job, and another has lost a marriage. As I tried to find ways to comfort them, I thought back on the times in my life when I had experienced loss; both small and great losses, tangible and intangible losses. Age and treachery have made me wise in trusting that as cliché as it sounds, every problem does indeed hold a gift for you in its hands. I have learned that when one door closes surely another one opens. I have lived long enough to trust that life is unfolding just as it is supposed to and that as counterintuitive as it may sound and feel, when we lose, we most often find.
Lost rarely happens in our life without found. Lost and found are in my mind at least, not exclusive experiences or events. They are eternally linked in the cosmos not by karma, but as yin and yang, left and right. It is simply the balance of how life is given to us. When we have lost, we will find, but we must choose to find.
We may not find exactly what it was that we lost, but often we find more. Often, we find a different kind or brand of joy. We find lessons and meaning and pieces of our self we never knew existed. We find parts of the puzzle we never even noticed before, and we discover that pieces fit where we never imagined they would fit.
A friend shared this last week, “When one door closes another one opens, but those hallways are a bitch.” I giggled and realized that really, hallways are nothing but the space between lost and found and that perhaps I wasn’t lost, that my year wasn’t lost after all. It was just a year of making my way down a hallway. I am still moving, but I just haven’t found yet.
But sure enough, one day the next door will open.
And then, just like that, all of the pieces will come together.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.
Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.
Desiderata ~Max Ehrmann c.1920