On losing my grip: practice for letting go

When I was young, I didn’t realize that losing your grip was more

than a metaphor for losing your mind, losing control,

losing touch with reality, becoming confused,

indecisive, foundering at sea.

I always suspected that losing your grip had something to do with aging:

a dulling of the sword, a dampening of the mental gymnastics

long accustomed to making rapid connections

between diverse events, ideas, words;

a factory-installed governor retarding the speed of uptake

that must be bypassed and hotwired to restore fully functioning synapses,

keep the mind sharp, the lightbulbs at full wattage,

the deck with all its cards, the marbles in their sack.

Now I realize that losing your grip is also literal.

Due to fingerprints sanded smooth, dry skin, arthritis, neuropathy,

things are slipping through my fingers

rather than sticking to my former gravity-defying grip.

Cups, clothes, to-do lists, halter ropes, chisels, envelopes of jail mail —

all are being seduced by gravity, the irresistible magnetic pull

of our home planet on everything that has mass and weight.

Everything wants to go home.

Perhaps I should go get a grip, a newer model with juicy and sensitive fingertips

better able to feel the textures of the world and hold onto them.

I probably shouldn’t shop online. I should try it on and walk around the store to be sure it fits.

And I should pay extra for a good warranty in case the grip is defective.

A shiny new grip would help me contain my emotions and win more poker games,

(if only I played them). I could recover my self-control and behave normally

for once in my life. (Fat chance. I’ll let you in on a secret:

the quest for normal is the biggest soul-sucking trap there is.)

If I had a new firm grip with a solid warranty, I wouldn’t come undone

witnessing how cancer is ravaging a loved one

while not being able to drive to her bedside, hold her hand,

say goodbye, and share the burden of grieving with my family.

Perhaps a new grip would help me defy the bit of star stuff

that has taken up lodging in my own brain. But no, there’s a larger lesson here.

It isn’t about getting a new grip. It isn’t even about losing my grip.

It’s about loosing my grip, a way to practice letting go.

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