This morning, after swimming, I overhear a conversation between two men who are sitting by the water. One has lost his sunglasses on an earlier swim and is quite distressed.
‘They were expensive. Armani.’ he says. ‘I paid a lot of money for them. And they are the third pair I’ve lost this summer’.
He is too agitated to be present with his friend who, after some minutes of listening, says ‘You seem really shaken up by this, too shaken up even to really be interested that I’m here with you. You’re saying the same thing, over and over again. But,’ and here he pauses, ‘tell me something. Did you enjoy having them? Did they bring you pleasure? Because although you’ve now lost them, for a while you did have them too’.
For a while, you did have them.
And at that moment it occurs to me that this is true for everything, and for all of us. We wail and fret about what we lose, and rightly, because our loss is so often a source of suffering for us. But we will all lose our sunglasses, eventually, just as we will lose all our possessions, our friendships, our bodies, and everything we know.
And because losing is terrible and difficult to bear, we can spend our lives fretting about what’s yet to lose, and clinging madly to it, or becoming consumed with longing or remorse for what we’ve lost.
And all the while forgetting that, for a time, we did have all of this, and missing the wonder that there is anything at all – sunglasses, friendships, work, life – worth having enough that its loss matters to us in the first place.