There’s a song by the Broken Bells, “The High Road” that points out the high road is hard to find and detours abound. The chorus includes the line “you let loss be your guide”. My interpretation of the lyrics is that the songwriter believes this is not a good way to live your life. I choose to respectfully disagree. This summer has been filled with loss for my family/friends and for me, from those losses has come a greater appreciation of the life around me.
We have lost brothers, uncles and friends this summer. Some were expected, some were not. Relationships have ended and hearts broken. Shock, grief, sadness and anger temporarily prevailed. Only to be washed over by love, understanding, kindness and comforting.
What clearly comes through the chaos of emotions is that we only have this very minute to make the most of the connections we have. Do we choose the pain we know or do we forge ahead towards the unknown of possibility? Questions abound – what if the unknown hurts? But what if it doesn’t? Does our present life provide us with fulfillment? Or are we living in fear? If we knew we were to die today, would the balance of the scales tilt towards regret or gratitude?
The passing of those close to us allow introspection and contemplation. With these losses as our guide, we can see the life we don’t want and contrast it to the life we do want. With that distinction, we hopefully can strive to towards what we want. With loss as our guide, we must be careful not to dwell on the pain of the loss, but the lessons that the loss provides.
One of my dear friends recently lost her uncle and her father in the same week. As she was sharing her remembrances, she easily struck the chord of the interpersonal gifts that her uncle provided to her family at large. That story was one of grace, he was a kind and generous man who obviously believed he had more time on here on Earth. Yet, although he was a giving man to his family, he put his own life on hold in many ways. The mixture of joy for what he did for others and the sadness that he didn’t fulfill his own life’s goals were evident in her retelling of his life. From her loss, the lesson was do not wait to live your life, chase what you want joyfully and wholeheartedly.
Her story of her father is much more difficult and discovering the lesson will be as well. Their relationship was broken at its best. How do you find memories to cherish from that? How does the loss of her father grace her life moving forward? She will be the only one to answer that question and her answers will be different from everyone else’s in her family. For me, her loss is my lesson to make sure that I reach out to any relationship that needs to be righted. I need to ensure that each and every person who is important to me knows that I unequivocably love them, regardless of the rockiness of our current situation.
Both losses guide us to the same lesson. Cherish what you love now. Do not wait. If you are holding love back, release it and let it grow. Do not be afraid of it. Tell those you love that you love them every day and live your life through that love. When you allow loss to be your guide, you will better understand when you have found what you truly want and need in this life. My suggestion is to reach for it with much joy and gusto, otherwise you have lost in vain.