Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Loss Prevention

Loss Prevention
Welcome, Minka!

In the last month, I have lost two things—one, a living creature who I love and miss very much, and the other, a more abstract, probably illusory thing I deeply desired but didn’t receive.

Too early, in the midst of my grief, against all logic, and to not an ounce of regret, I adopted a new cat from the shelter on Sunday afternoon. She’s adorable and she’s doing great, but she’s extremely protective of the small territory of the bedroom that we’ve confined her to, and has been unwilling to acquiesce space to our other cat yet. I understand this intense sense of protectiveness. She’s been through a lot, and she doesn’t have much to hold onto. She’s not yet familiar enough with us to feel safe; to know that her resources will always be replenished, to understand that she will be loved and provided for and that she doesn’t have to fight to exhaustion for it.

I’m cursed with a personality trait that is probably half nature, half nurture, that causes me to experience the normal losses and abandonments of life as crushingly painful. Because the universe never felt safe to me, because I never felt a strong sense of being protected or provided for, I have an intense need to control loss and avoid abandonment. I’m not an optimistic bouncer-backer; I’m a more of crawl–under-the-duvet-er, only to emerge when bored with my own suffering or lured out by an enticing treat. So I have a lot of compassion for what this cat is going through. And I know that when she feels safe; when understands that she’ll have everything she needs, she’ll loosen up a little.

The trick for me is to work on this trust on my own life; in my relationship to abundance and my faith in the fundamental benevolence of the Universe. To learn to trust enough that I can let go of all of the futile and exhausting grasping, fighting, struggling and attempting to manipulate and control. To know that everything will be replenished; that I will be easily carried to the place I need to be; that time will do its work and that I will be provided for, materially, emotionally, and spiritually. That if I calm down long enough, I may learn to develop the wisdom to understand the difference between useless, hysterical action and right action. And to know that often, I need to be protected from getting what I want.

I wrote the following poem several years ago. At the time, I wasn’t sure what it was about. Today I look back and see it as a message to my future self; the self now who needs to hear this, and believe in it.


What would you carry with you?
How much weight would you hoist off the strap
onto your soft frayed shoulder
as you swim through the haze of your day
with your full and crafty tote?

What provisions would you gather
under the chapped mouth of the leather:
candies, needles, cigarettes?
Cold solid things you’d know by feel,
reachable and assuring.

What are you willing to lose;
to let sink to the bottom, forgotten
into the deep wrinkled floor?
What burdens would you let that abyss
of worn satin swallow?

And what would you tuck away
in the place of honor, that one-off
disfigured, awkward pocket
where you stash your favorite secret
like a stale and stolen butterscotch?

Or are you simply willing
to fall out into the open world
with no keys, no mints, no stamps,
not a saltine to your name
lacking chapstick, phone and change?

Would you just walk, and trust
that doors would fling open before you,
that the rain would rinse your breath,
that ravens would bring your messages,
that ripe vines would leap at you,

dropping their medicine fruit?
And that all you needed would be there
for the clean, easy taking--
you could go free, practically naked,
bagless and loved and wild.

--Kristen McHenry


Jo-Ann said...

I so resonate with both your story and poem. I used to walk around with this packsack full of things I might need in case of ...there were maps, and plastic bags,books to read and books to write in, pepper spray and dental floss, hand creams and sun blocks. I was prepared for anything except to trust.

Its funny, as I have learned to trust more, and my inner safety has increased, my pack sack has reduced in size and yes, ever so often, I too go out bare of back.
Thank you again for writing my inner being.

Eugenia said...

This is an healing poem for me;
Resonates so deeply in me.
it's great, well thought out...
it's perfect. Thanks.