Tag Archives: loss

2015: So Far, a Mystery

Screen Shot 2014-12-31 at 7.42.44 PMA New Year has a big burden to bear. We don’t know what will happen, so we make stuff up. Many people want it to be a better year than 2014. Bad things happen every year, but at New Year, we hope to dodge anything awful.

Yes, sorrow, loss, and disappointment are tough in the short term, but perhaps not in the long term. My editor, Tonia Jenny, has an interesting post on sorrow and loss:

We cling to joy because we are afraid of what’s in the dark. But it’s the rich depth of all experiences that create such beautiful life stories. It’s because we know what fear, anxiety, frustration and hopelessness feel like that we relish peace, calm, flow and the excitement of optimistic anticipation. And here’s the real kicker: without occasionally feeling what we view as negative emotions we forget the difference; we take joy and calm for granted and we get bored.

We should not expect to be happy, satisfied, or content all the time. It’s the distance between joy and sorrow that measures the depth of our satisfaction.

After I gave up eating sugar (because I had to, I certainly didn’t want to), my taste buds gradually adjusted to the natural sweetness in foods.  When a restaurant was out of tea, and their water tasted like a public pool in July, I decided to drink a diet soda for the first time in years.

Once, I drank six diet sodas a day,  my first at breakfast. I anticipated the taste memory and was horrified at what I swallowed. It tasted chemical, cloyingly sweet and completely undrinkable. I would have never noticed that–or stopped longing for it– if I had not given it up.

Last night we had a hard freeze in the desert. As I write this, I don’t know which of my plants will survive. The agaves, filled with sap, will be the first to freeze. I may lose half of my plants. I may lose the oranges, if not the tree.

The loss of pain is necessary, but it’s never welcomed. If nothing else,

A cactus protected from freezing weather. Sort of.

A cactus protected from freezing weather. Sort of.

plants are expensive to replace. But it’s more than that for me. I take care of my plants, know their weaknesses and the deep joy they bring. They signal the subtle change of seasons for me. They are living representations of the reason I came to Phoenix: warm weather, lots of light, and a certain dependence on the vagaries of nature.

Still, if you live in the desert, you expect loss. True, you expect it in the summer, but it is no less for coming on New Year’s Eve.

As we slip into 2015, I hope to be mindful of every joy and tend to every loss as carefully as my plants. There is new growth in every loss.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer living in the Sonoran desert. She is a naturalist and a life coach, often for humans.