Investing in Loss

Flavia PotenzaBy Flavia Potenza      August 6, 2021

Share Story on:

Investing in Loss
Topanga has lost so many good souls this year. So has the country with more than half a million deaths from COVID-19. To be precise, as of this writing it was 618,223 +70 nationally; 4,229,142 +5,147 worldwide. Grief abounds and comes with spasms of unbearable pain that sucks out every bit of life. Yet we are still alive. When years of depression eventually caught up with me, my acupuncturist advised me (with a smile, no less) to “sit in the pain.” She meant that I should yield to it and feel every second of that pain. I was incredulous. I just wanted it to go away. Now. What happened, for reasons unfathomable to my understanding, was that as I retreated and wallowed in the misery of it, giving over to the emotions that came up, the pain started to fall away, slowly but for real. It would never fully go away but it became more of a memory than a visceral attack. Let me say here that this is not a pitch for acupuncture or what comes next — about Tai Chi. The phrase, “investing in loss,” recently came to me through the practice of Tai Chi but I continued to puzzle over its meaning and relevance to everyday living. I read the Tao Te Ching (Stephen Mitchell English translation) for glimpses of inspiration but…it is paradoxical and hard to understand, that in its 81 lessons we are asked to treat opposites—yin and yang, dark and light, bad and good— the same. Rudyard Kipling’s wisdom in his poem, “If,” comes to mind. The application is more apparent when applied to the martial arts aspect of Tai Chi practice. When attacked, instead of following “our first instinct to seek an immediate advantage over an opponent [in this case grief/loss], investing in loss requires allowing our opponent to attack without offering any resistance. Instead, we draw our opponent’s force away so that it becomes ineffective, and our counter is even more powerful.” (georgiaintegrative.wordpress.com/tag/tao-te-ching) This hasn’t been a solitary journey. I had a lot of support from therapy, friends, family, and, always, my animals (See pages 7-9. It’s Dog Days, after all!). Living in Topanga has been an essential part of my journey. This tight little community manifests all those things that address the human condition: support, challenges, acknowledgment, adversity, healing, outrage, succor in times of loss... It’s a time to reflect. The process of investing in loss, accepting it is there, eventually comes out the other side as it dissipates, creating a new space—different from the void created by loss of a loved one filled with pain, or the general morass of grief that invites itself into our psyche. Nature does abhor a vacuum. Look to a tree, a sunset, a much desired rainstorm, to the caring of the people around us, the animals, and invite whatever you like into that new space. Then, see what happens. —Flavia Potenza
Flavia Potenza

Share Story on:

Thinking Out Loud
Passages
News
Theater
Dog Days
The Readable Feast
All Things Connected
Rude Interruptions
Education