What is lost?
When you are five minutes late, and your friend didn’t mind waiting;
When you rush somewhere and in doing so forget about where you already are;
When the place you were going to ends up not mattering anyway?
Nothing is lost. Nothing really.
When I want to slow myself down, I ask: “What is lost?”
When I bike somewhere with only the destination in mind, and I see a lone man looking out over the harbor on top of the dusty cement underneath the afternoon sun, and I pine for that experience, being him then, I slow down. What is lost? I can find my own vista if I want, savor my own experience. Nothing is lost. I breathe a little deeper, feel and see a little more acutely. Here are my legs and arms moving the bike along, and straight ahead of me the road and the rest of the world continually comes into focus, then passes by kaleidoscopically. This perspective is your own; take a look around. Nothing is lost.
When you bear down, narrowing your focus to a single point, and cultivate obsession, what is lost?
Simple: everything else.
In the effort to hold on, to NOT lose, the world has spun you by.
And if you’ve come this far, sacrificed so much in the effort to hold on, then you might as well keep it up, right?
Well… what is lost? What happens if you look up right now?
The world teems with potential. Each violet flower shining iridescent in the sun is a morsel of beauty, ready to be gobbled up, and each one is more delicious than the last. The loosely swaying tree boughs dance in the wind for you, if you are patient enough to stay and watch. The leaves shimmer and turn like a school of fish, forming a single softly undulating entity. The stucco walls of the houses you pass by are battlefields where light and darkness clash, microscopic boulderfields.
…You don’t see these things if you are thinking about television. They get lost.
The clouds move. Not as fast as humans, most of the time, but they do. Even the big cumulus clouds perched way up high by the sunset have a slow syrupy movement like nothing else you’ve seen before. Then the fog moves along too, of course, and contrails diffuse and eventually disappear. The world is full of subtle fluctuations; it takes a trained eye to see them all. The stars move, too–they trace time-lapse arcs in the sky over the course of the night. I’ve never laid out that long, though. I’ve never seen them change.
I suppose you could watch bamboo grow if you were patient. Over the span of an entire day the tops could grow out of your reach. You could watch an acorn become a sapling, then a big ole tree–but only if you were very, very patient. Imagine that a monk came to the tree every morning and gladly shouted “My, tree! Look how you’ve grown!!” In time, it would be a giant. After years of watching its growth every day, he would see it in each stage, after so much love, devotion, attention. And then we ask, what is lost?
Or how about what is GAINED? Maybe a friend, a shelter, a reprieve. Imagine his delight finding a baby squirrel born of the family who lives up in the tree’s branches, in watching all the branches spread out and take up their own space, in knowing the birds who nest there by name.
When I ask “What is lost?” I never actually expect to answer it. It seems pointless to fill up your mind with potential things that you could lose, and then despair as you watch them all pass silently away in your imagination. I ask myself what is lost because I find it puts me in the habit of gaining things.