Practicing the Art of Losing: Are You a Good Sport in Life or Just Another Troubled Guest Darkening the Earth?

Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.” – Norman Cousins

On this blog and my others (,, I write a lot about death, mortality, loss, impermanence.

And I do so for several reasons.

One is because it is through facing and wrestling with these extraordinary and eternal questions that we tap into one of the primary sources of our humanity—our compassion, love, understanding, conscience, goodness. Death wakes us up, gets our attention like nothing else in life can. People who cannot or will not think about their own mortality and others’ mortality are asleep in life and are themselves living a living-death. They are dead while alive, asleep, blind, trapped within themselves by their fears. To truly live we must integrate death into our lives; to untruly live, we need simply deny our own and others’ mortality.

Another reason I focus on loss, impermanence, death—the less pleasant to look at side of life—is because this is part of my own death-work—it is my way of putting to rout all that is not life so that not when I come to die I end up discovering that I did not truly live (Thoreau). To philosophize means to learn how to die well and live well (Socrates, Montaigne)—which means I will be constantly sharpening this saw in order to try and be the best version of me I am able.

I also write a lot about death, loss, impermanence, as well as courage, honesty, truth, because these things are intrinsically connected to our capacity to love. If we can’t face reality—our existential lot—and do so honestly and fully, then our ability to love is also automatically and unavoidably compromised. If we can’t stand the rigors of facing reality and our own mortality, then we won’t be able to stand the rigors of loving another, of exposing ourselves, of knowing another and being known. We won’t be fit for life or love.

“Have the courage to live. Anyone can die.” – Robert Cody

Life is about loss. Loss—at least some losses in life—are inevitable. And most of us naturally try to live our lives in ways that minimize our losses and our potential for losing the things and people that are important to us. And in doing this, we try to create a sense of permanency, or, put another way, a sense of being in control. If we’re going to have to lose things, we’d much rather lose them on our terms than on life’s terms. We’d much rather have some sense of power, some say in when and how we lose something, rather than experience the complete and utter helplessness and vulnerability of having life simply take what we love away from us, and do so forcibly, and realizing how utterly powerless and helpless and small we are in the scheme of things. We don’t want to be stripped or violated by anyone or anything, including life itself. Yet this is just what life will surely do to each of us so long as we insist on trying to live and love on our own terms instead of life’s.

If what I’ve written here and shared resonates with you or interests you, then please click on the link below and read my post here

About John

I am a married, 46-year old, Midwesterner, with four children. My primary interest is in leading a very examined and decent and Loving life; my interests that are related to this and that feed into this include (and are not limited to) -- psychology, philosophy, poetry, critical thinking, photography, soccer, tennis, chess, bridge.
This entry was posted in Death, Love, Mature Love, Mental Health, Montaigne, Thoreau, Uncategorized, Waking Up, What is Love? and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Practicing the Art of Losing: Are You a Good Sport in Life or Just Another Troubled Guest Darkening the Earth?

  1. Subhan Zein says:

    This is a very good reminder. Thank you very much, John! 🙂
    And I particularly really like Norman Cousins’ quote above. Very inspiring!
    And yes, you may want to take a look at some of the stories I wrote in my blog: ‘The Two Rupiah Notes’ and ‘The Scholar and the Boatman’. Please feel free to visit.. 🙂

    Warm regards,

    Subhan Zein

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