It’s Day 5 of Reverb10. Here’s today’s prompt:
What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
(Author: Alice Bradley)
Oh, so very, very much.
But let’s start with an excerpt from Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle “One Art.”
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! My last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
I lost a town.
I lost my proximity to some very dear friends.
I gave up a dog.
I’ve shed 15 pounds (so far), as well as a job that I had ceased to love.
I’ve also gained many lovely things.
The metrics of change
This stuff is hard to measure. It’s not as easy as making two columns labeled + and -, and then deciding what to do next depending on which column contains more items. There’s no point system for loss, disappointment, grief, transition, or renewal.
We’re told when we’re establishing a new thing that we should conduct research, gather hard evidence, evaluate the market (or interest) in what we want to do. And then once we launch (or begin to share) whatever it is we’ve made, we’re told we must pay attention to all kinds of metrics: How many people are visiting our website every day? Who are they? When? How often? Looking for what keywords? How long do they linger? What links do they click?
Yes, these are all important things to know when we’re in transition from one undertaking to the next. And I will begin measuring soon—looking at the course evaluations my students will complete later this week. Looking at the peer reviews from the journal articles I’ve sent out this semester. Considering whether it’s time for us to buy a house instead of rent. Looking at the statistics from local elementary schools as we decide where to send our son for kindergarten next year.
At the same time, there’s something to be said for observation that goes deeper than metrics–one that recognizes qualitative markers like feelings, personal and professional development, and comfort. I’m in a stage where I’m recognizing what I’ve lost, and deciding whether or not I need to grieve that loss, seek a replacement for it, or let it go entirely.
What have you let go this past year?
Is it something you miss? Is it something from which you’re glad to be free? Is your loss, or the grief or joy you gained from it, measurable in any way? Feel free to share in the comments.