Today, I have finished and posted a new project with the title “Loss”. Recently, I was confronted with a great personal loss and I felt the urge to create a project to sort out my emotional turmoil. Maybe, I just tried to “projectize” my loss. Only, once the project started it didn’t seem to have a natural conclusion, it just went on and on. I learned, that after all, loss possibly cannot be projectized.
Loss and its companion sorrow are quite socially accepted when they relate to the loss of a person near to us. Other than that, loss has a bad reputation. First, I thought this had to do with our worship of winning. Winning, gaining, makes us all great and happy. Still, I have heard that the people who have gained the most, fear loss the most. Fear of loss seems like the price paid for gaining.
Then, it occurred to me that the concept of winning, or rather gaining and losing seems all around us. There is hardly any living thing that does not gain and sustain life without harming other living things. Maybe some bacteria, trees or other plants who feed on dead matter or air are exceptions, but even there I am not quite sure. Every gain, it seems, comes with loss somewhere. Is then life really a single zero-sum-game as the cynics claim?
Maybe the problem is not life, but rather how we attach value to terms and concepts. Winning is good, losing is bad. But this valuation is based on an illusion. Winning is a fleeting illusion, we all will lose everything eventually – even our lives. Winning is a losing preposition because the more we have won the more there is to lose. Losing wins every time.
Losing and winning are not opposites either, they create each other. Maybe we should learn to lose the right way so that the gain of it is released. At times I even think we should teach children losing at school, as the art of losing seems like a core competence in life.
What then, you might ask, is the meaning of it all and life in particular, if in the end we always lose and winning is just an illusion? Who, I reply, did ever promise you that living has meaning? Isn’t meaning something that you (and I) are just desperate to believe in? Maybe we have to lose our belief in a meaning of life first, before we so liberated can start to give meaning to life. Because that, I think, is entirely possible. By caring for others, by loving, by appreciation of the beauty of everything (even our own souls) we bring meaning into existence, it is our gift to the world – and ourselves.
Now, I am sitting on my favourite rock, overlooking my favourite little lake. All around me, forest ants do their little antish things. I feel there is happiness waiting in this place beyond winning and losing.
Once I had come to realise that I will never be able to finish “Project Loss”, I wondered what I should to with it. It didn’t seem quite suitable, or coherent enough, for an exhibition or a book. Therefore I decided to post it here without further ado. Publishing it like this, I know, might mean it will never be noticed – it is like scribbling poems on scraps of paper and throwing them into the wind. I like that idea. Maybe I am turning into one of these crazed monks of old like Han-Shan, who wrote poems just like that?
In his beautiful song “Caledonia”, Dougie MacLean wrote: “I lost the friends that needed losing”. Maybe, this project is a friend that needs losing. And how many things need losing, before the baggage becomes light enough for us to be able to travel home? I like the idea of throwing this project into the wind, because the wind has no care in the world.