The Art of Losing

Yesterday, as I cleaned out my car – which had been deemed a Total Loss by the insurance company – I was struck with a profound sense of surrealism:  I always seem to be losing something.

It’s a sobering task, cleaning out your vehicle, knowing it will be taken and ripped apart for scrap metal.  It’s actually quite sad, at least for me.  Granted, I’d much rather go through this than the grim task of, say, having to clean out the home of a deceased love one, so I will go on record here and admit I can’t imagine what that’s like.  My problems certainly pale in comparison to something like that.

But I digress.


It wasn’t so much the removal of my belongings; it was the idea that I’d done it so many times before.  When I was 19, I was in an accident that nearly decimated my car (seat belts save lives, just a head’s up).  At the junkyard, I had to clean out my things; tapes, books, clothes, you name it.  The car was my first, a vehicle I’d worked very hard for – saving 80% of my paychecks for months –  so it was quite heart-wrenching for me at the time.

But life moves on.

Again, when I was 20, I had to do the same thing with a car that was repossessed (I was young, naive, with NO business having credit cards).  There I was, with a big trash bag full of items I clearly thought so little of to begin with, since I’d kept them in my car without a second thought – until I had to pile them up like garbage.  Why did this task hurt so bad?

Three times in life I had to leave things behind.  When I was eight and my father uprooted us to live in California (heavy gambler, debts that reached far out of his control), I remember driving away from a family friend’s house, where our life was basically shoved into their garage – furniture, clothes, toys, electronics.  It was awful.  The sight of our sofa, upended, made me cry.  Again, at 20, I’d defaulted on a storage unit; several weeks later I got a notice that my things had either been destroyed or auctioned off.  That one hit me the worst, still does: pictures, yearbooks, memories upon memories, all gone.  At 21 I moved to Boston, which turned out to be a mistake, and my hasty decision to move back to California meant leaving a dozen boxes of more prized belongings behind – more photos, books, and writing – overseen by someone I’m sure wound up tossing it all away.

But I moved on.

While I cleaned out my car yesterday, I was left wondering when this sense of loss will stop.  IF it stops.  “It could have been much worse,” my friends have told me, “you could have lost your life.”  And this is true.  Profound, eye-opening, and true.  Again, I’m blessed with not having had to deal yet with Death – which I dread – so maybe these acts of loss are preparing me?  I hate that idea.  It makes me think that Life is, in fact, a test.  Pass parts A, B and C, and successfully move on to D!!

It’s funny, to be so emotional over an inanimate thing.  I really loved my car.  And there I was, piling my belongings into a giant black trash bag while the Collision Guy stood by and watched, like a funeral director at a mortuary – standing rigid, arms behind his back, giving me All The Time I Needed.  We shook hands, said our goodbyes.  I drove away and it was the last time I’d see that car – that non-living, non-sentient piece of metal that got me from point A to point B.

And I actually cried a little.  Again.


3 thoughts on “The Art of Losing

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  1. Ah, Sean, loss is a part of life. It’s amazing you’ve not had to face death yet. It sucks. No matter if it’s the first time, or the eighth. Sorry for your little car. You were so excited when you got that. I agree with you and Keith though, can’t be fixed? I swear they make them disposable now.

  2. I feel cars, like other people, are special to everyone in that way. They represent freedom and independence for the owner, regardless of the giant payment for it every month or how ridiculously expensive gas gets. After my “first” car died and we got the new one, I couldn’t bring myself to get rid of it for almost a year later because it had been so much for me before it broke. *hugs* Life gets funny and strange sometimes, but it’s totally just one giant test 🙂

  3. Sean, life works like a hard running stream, it will move stone along its’ bed both large and small. We carry possessions both large and small. As the stream continues it will pick up many things and carry them along..
    As we twist and turn through life we have very few things that float the entire length, those we call friends and family.

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