Wednesday, November 8, 2023


“Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose.”

I used to hate that quote.

It is actually a lyric from a song made popular by the late Janis Joplin. The sentiment activated all sorts of internal arguments for me until I grew into knowing how true it really is. I guess earlier in life I had not yet endured enough loss to understand what composer Kris Kristofferson was saying.

Now I have and so I do.

I began to experience deep losses early in my lifetime. From my current perspective I see them as evidence of an archetypal pattern that while extremely painful were also profoundly revelatory. When I became mature enough to consciously use the losses as fodder for growth and evolution the losses no longer used me.

My earlier belief was that every loss was about me. Someone died, leaving me. Someone put me out of their direct sphere, rejecting me. Opportunities were lost, robbing me of success and fulfillment.

Me. Me. Me.

The obvious common denominator in all my life losses was me.

Then one day I awakened to the deeper reality that while it was me that was experiencing the many incidents of loss the common denominator was loss itself and not me.

Holy Janis Joplin.

While this may not land for most readers, I pray that it will take root in at least one of you.

Loss happens. It happens for all of us. Life contains dynamics of both loss and gain. At the broadest level it is not personal. People do not die leaving me. People reject for all sorts of perceptual reasons. Ultimately it has little to nothing to do with me. Opportunities come and go, as do successes and modes of fulfillment. I may be a participant for sure. But opportunities, successes, fulfillment are bigger than me.

The recognition of the above is a perhaps narrow yet open door to freedom.

Freedom from the tyranny of me.

My life experience has been punctuated by a myriad of losses. Those losses were and some remain very painful. While I continued to take them personally, they led to great persistent suffering. Life was somehow tormenting me. Losses were being hurled at me. Love was being torn from me. You and countless others were leaving me.

Me. Me. Me.

I do not minimize the depth of pain that loss has held for me. I simply have learned to hold it differently, more consciously. I have learned to understand that all of us have, are, and will experience multiple losses during the duration of our lifetime. Though they are experienced by our personhood they are not personal. Life takes nothing from me. Regardless of what others may do I am always at choice as to how I interpret their actions. I am always at choice as to whether I take things personally or from a more wakeful, impersonal perspective.

Hence, my friends: freedom.

I have reached a point in this human adventure where I know that there is nothing left that I can lose that I cannot choose a conscious, impersonal relationship to.

Yes, there will be pain.

Yes, I will experience it at a personal level, even as I allow the impersonal to govern my responsiveness. And responsiveness is always rooted in freedom. Key to that freedom is not making losses about me.

“Freedoms just another word for nothing left to lose.”

I used to hate that quote.

Now I love it.

I love it because I know a felt experience of it.

The past decade has been particularly filled with losses. Deaths of many kinds. People leaving in droves, for many reasons known and unknown. As the spouse of someone leaving incrementally on a daily basis, I am up close and personal with loss.

I am up close and personal with loss, yet I am not mired in taking it personally. That realization is how I cut my losses. How I stop the hemorrhaging of me interpretations. How I silence the wailing of why this is happening to me.

It isn’t.

All this loss is not about me.

It is happening within me, yet not to me. Not personally. I am not being tormented by a punitive life, even when I am left by punitive people.

Freedom. Nothing left to lose. Cutting my losses. Choosing my relating.

Loss will continue to visit my experience, and my freedom is the fortitude that loss itself has taught me to utilize in my relating.

And the one thing I can never lose is my sense of self that rises above the fragile me.