Living With Loss

September 23, 2016
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John Steinbeck once wrote: “It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” He’s saying that, if something had never happened in the first place, you would never have lost it. I haven’t experienced the losses some other older people have, because I’m just a kid. But we’ve all experienced loss and we all lose things all the time. We lose relatives, family members, objects, possessions, bets, games, contests, money, time, and so many other things. I think of loss in two different categories: concrete loss is the loss of something real and physical, while abstract loss is the loss of a concept or something else abstract. Concrete losses are more sudden, and make me feel sad and sometimes guilty, but I get over them. Abstract losses are more emotional, and also make me feel sad and guilty, but I think about them for a long time afterwards and take longer to heal.


I’ve experienced many losses over the years, including the loss of possessions, games, and other stuff; concrete losses like these might linger for a few days, but eventually, the memory of the pain of the loss is forgotten. Our school’s basketball team was playing a game at James Kenney park against Prospect Sierra, and it was the 4th quarter. We were down by one point. Unfortunately our team wasn’t very good and consisted mostly of sixth graders who didn’t know how to play basketball, so, we lost the game. That loss was a particularly crushing loss for me, because I had scored most of the points and played really well, but we still lost by one point. It was just a basketball game, but my self confidence suffered. For the next few games, I felt down and didn’t feel the drive to try to win. I didn’t shoot as much, and instead, I passed the ball to my teammates, even though I knew some of them were worse than me and would get the ball stolen.


When I was in 4th grade, my brother gave me this superior gaming mouse for my birthday. I played with it a few times, but I didn’t like it too much, so I stopped using it and one day I misplaced it. I looked for it everywhere but couldn't find it. This loss was a little bit different than the last one. The first one was a loss of a contest, and this one was the loss of an object. But they both affected me. The latter made me feel guilty while the former made me feel less confident. The loss of my gaming mouse didn’t matter that much to me at first, but once I realized it was one of the best gaming mice in the world, it mattered a lot more. I felt kind of bad that I had lost it, especially since my brother gave it to me. It made me feel guilty that I lost it, because my brother worked hard and spent his own money to get me that mouse, and I just treated it like any normal object. After I realized how much the mouse meant to me, it was too late. I wanted to repay my brother, because he didn’t deserve to have his Christmas present treated that way. I wanted to give him something for his birthday, or next Christmas in order to make amends.


Abstract loss, such as the loss of a friend or an abstract concept such as time or a feeling, is more deep and emotional than concrete loss, and lingers longer. My best friend, Emilio, transferred schools after 5th grade was over. Over the summer I didn’t hang out with him that much or even communicate with him. When I next saw him at my friend's birthday party, I felt like I didn’t even know him. He was still the same person, but a complete stranger at the same time. He still looked, talked, and dressed the same, but when I talked to him, we didn’t know what to say. It just became really awkward between us and I felt like we had almost nothing in common anymore. We didn’t crack jokes or laugh as much. Gradually, we drifted apart. Before, I would see him everyday at school, but now I only saw him 3-4 times a year. Before, I felt like I knew him really well; now, I’m not so confident that I know him well anymore. I feel like I can’t trust him as much anymore. I lost my friendship with him, thereby losing my trust in him and my confidence that I knew him so well.


Another example of abstract loss is the loss of time. I recently had Saturday afternoon all to myself. My mom was away and I could do whatever I wanted to at home, so I spent most of the time playing video games. When I looked up at the clock, two-and-a-half hours had gone by. I had lost that afternoon. I felt like I had wasted the whole afternoon playing video games when I could’ve spent that time much more productively and wisely. I could’ve spent that afternoon reading, learning and exercising instead of playing video games that don’t help me at all. This was a wasted chance for me, but was also a learning experience. I lost that afternoon, and I lost time, but I learned not to do it again.


John Steinbeck wrote about loss. I think that one of the points he was trying to make was that once you get used to something, it just goes into your life and you don’t appreciate how important or cool it is until you’ve lost it. But I think it’s worth the risk. You can lose anything, from cars to houses to friends, but if you don’t take risks then there’s really no point to living. You won’t get anywhere in life if you fear loss.

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