The Beauty of Losing

jen listeningI have lost and it’s a beautiful thing.

Lost what? You will, of course, ask.

Lost the need to know.

All my life I have been a spiritual seeker. My spiritual autobiography highlights include:

Methodist Sunday school, Baptist church (at 12, on my own, without my family), Catholic mass with my best friend

Course in Miracles, channeling (L.A. in the 80’s what a hoot), Assiniboine sweat lodges, goddess circles, sage wafting everywhere

Every kind of yoga you can name, mantras spilling off my lips, Buddhism in many colors, meditation cushion always

Unitarian Universalism (me at the pulpit, loved those Sundays), Episcopalian wafers, deep-dive Jungian analysis.

I intensely loved and learned from these experiences (well, most of them). I adored the seeker in me. And then, one day, the seeking became empty. A distraction. The desire to find the answer began to hurt. To hinder.

I fought letting go of knowing, of seeking. Not doing so unmoored me, made me dizzy. Who would I be if I let go of wanting to know?

And (of course) the pull only grows more intense. I know a soul’s call when I feel it. (I know about refusing the call, too. Oh, don’t I.) When I lead my retreats this month, I heard this from other women, too. “I just want to be still.” “I am called to stillness.”

My call is this: Settle into stillness.  Stop learning, stop seeking, stop fussing.

There is no need to know.

I’ve had experience with this. After my divorce, I so wanted to know why Chris left. It was Bob who said, “You will never know. Let it go.”

All my life I have loved the word mystery but not until now that I can feel its shape taking me under its wing.

Embrace the beauty of losing, I whisper to myself. What is lost can then be known. Maybe. Only no secret holding on, no backroom deal making.

To state the obvious: I do not know where this will lead me. That is the beauty of losing.


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Amy's Inkwell - January 22, 2013

I love this, Jen. So true! Soundtrack for this post: The Indigo Girls. “The less I seek my source, the closer I am to fine.”

sharon - January 22, 2013

Beautiful beautiful wisdom.

Karly Randolph Pitman - January 23, 2013


Oh, thank you for writing this! Ah, this resonated with me and opened my heart this morning. Yes, I have wanted to know why. The biggest why for me has been my lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety. I’ve spent many days and nights pouring my heart out to the Divine, asking why.

After years and years of why, what I came to realize was that underneath my real anguish, underneath my question why is a very subtle desire for control. If I can understand why, then I have something to change, something to control, something to fix. It’s how I try to gain ground. Even my search for explanations – rather than the mystery of I just don’t know – is a way to try to get around those feelings of utter powerlessness, that there is much of life that is outside my control.

To drop my why means to surrender to what I can’t control. To feel my anguish and all my feelings. To open my heart so wide that it includes what I don’t want, what I don’t understand. And I frankly, often, don’t want to do this – I’d rather ask why and try to find that workaround….

Your post reminded me of this poem by David Whyte, which for me is about letting go of why –

Self Portrait

It doesn’t interest me if there is one God
or many gods.
I want to know if you belong or feel


If you know despair or can see it in others.
I want to know 

if you are prepared to live in the world

with its harsh need
to change you. If you can look back

with firm eyes
saying this is where I stand. I want to know
if you know 

how to melt into that fierce heat of living
falling toward
the center of your longing. I want to know
if you are willing
to live, day by day, with the consequence of love

and the bitter

unwanted passion of your sure defeat.

I have heard, in that fierce embrace, even
the gods speak of God.

— David Whyte

So much love, Karly

    jenlouden - January 24, 2013

    ah as always you say it so well. when shall we remember – hopefully often – to take refuge here in the unwanted passion of our sure defeat?

Anne Gregson - January 23, 2013

Your musings are always so timely for me. Some fine synchronicity going on! After a life time of searching, always reaching for the next self helpy book, now knowing it was always right here inside me, my truth. Thank you for helping me to this new place of ease (Luscious Comfort Retreat Oct.), calm and strength. Gratitude fuels this wondrous place I’ve found.

Kate - January 23, 2013

Oh my goodness, yes! This is so true for me too. There came a point for me that the seeking became procrastination for actually doing the work to connect to my essence. Can anyone say attachment? I was clinging for dear life! I have an absolutely beautiful book called 365 Nirvana here and now by Josh Baran, that is meditations and quotes on exactly this – stopping seeking and instead finding. It’s always so nice to know that you aren’t alone in these feelings.

Marsha Burkett - January 23, 2013

I would love to let go of why my 2 beautiful nieces totally cut me off when they went to college. They are now in their mid 20’s. We were close for so many years! I was there for so many of their life events, they loved the gifts I gave them & treasured them especially the tall porcelain bride dolls I made for them. As little girls, they’d be waiting on their front steps watching for my car to drive in. Now, there’s nothing. No answer to email, no reply to invitations, no cards. I am god mother to one & finally stopped sending xmas & bday cards because i get nothing in return. I have talked to my brother about this in tears more than once & he can’t give me an answer other than everybody goes in different directions. I don’t think I’ll ever get over losing them. So sad & no clue at all why this happened other than my brother’s wife, their mother, is a bitter 2 faced person who never liked my parents who have both passed now, & never liked me. Btw, my parents were the sweetest people in the world & would always work there when they visited. One time mom was told by my brothers wife, “Oh you have such ugly knees.” and lastly, when my mom visited for the youngest’s college graduation, this mean person Sid to my mom that she should have had her wash her floor!!

Francisca - January 23, 2013

Beautifully articulated, Jennifer. Like you, I have an inquisitive mind,
and I still let too many “facts” “information” “news” into my life.
Yet, although I can’t pin-point the exact moment it happened, I arrived to letting go of the Need to Know on the BIG issues of Life some decades ago. And (referring to the Indigo Girls song mentioned by Amy, thanks!) I am very close to fine with that. Similarly, my honey, when I asked him over a quarter century ago why he loved me, answered, don’t ask why, just accept that I do. I did and he does.

mj - January 23, 2013

My guess is that balance will reveal itself to you. I thrive on stillness, the not knowing, solitude, oh, the peace of stillness. But, too much of that, too many years, too much not knowing has its downside. Balance, being centered somewhere amongst the stillness and the knowing, that is where real bliss lies. Enjoy that stillness, enjoy this time there, it all cycles back in time.

Liz Lamoreux - January 23, 2013

These words feel like the warm blanket my soul needed today. Thank you for your open heart and willingness to share your path.

    jenlouden - January 24, 2013

    thanks friend!

disqus_S7OTVY3r8Q - January 23, 2013

This has made sense for years, and is likely why this be the first time I write to acknowledge; many things you say pass by with positivity and evoke gratefulness and wonder from me at the timing and relatedness to recent conversations; your posts are a great way to wonder about hive mind. Wonder, so different from technical.

I remember clearly the first experience I had with this: I was 16 sitting on the floor, it took great will power to stand again and rejoin the group around me – I was at peace, in love, with joy, still. Stillness Has had many forms, it has been death- the great standstill after having lost something of the core of my being, it was immeasurable, my slowness – I forgot how to walk but I did, because we must. And the, “‘why anything?’ Or ‘why not?'”


Carmen Burgos - January 23, 2013

Is it really losing if you can let go and have joy and peace without the knowing?
I think it is the greatest win of all…
After health, the only things to have are love (relationships with others, and your God, a sense of peace within and joy in all we do.

    jenlouden - January 24, 2013

    it isn’t losing is it? it’s finding!

Hannah - January 23, 2013

I think it’s natural that we are constantly questing to know our place in the world around us, know why people do – or don’t do – certain things to us, and to know what it all means. But I agree with you, there is a certain peace in knowing one thing: that we don’t necessarily know. Good luck on your journey of losing and not knowing, I hope you’ll share more about it!

    jenlouden - January 24, 2013

    oh yes the guessing and searching will continue but I can observe it with lightness. This is not resignation or shutting myself off but a wide open being of mysterious curiosity – if that makes sense! I will write more about this, thanks for asking!

Connie Knapp - January 23, 2013

Wow-there is no need to know. I need to “chew” on that for a while. Thanks for that.

Melinda - January 23, 2013

I have come to believe that great wisdom is knowing that we cannot know and to accept it.

    jenlouden - January 24, 2013

    well said!

Tracy Verdugo - January 23, 2013

beautiful message Jen…I am finding also that there is much magic in surrender xo

    jenlouden - January 24, 2013

    thanks Tracy!

Colette - January 23, 2013

This is where I’m at too. I just need to STOP and rest. And not push myself.

Viky Fisher - January 24, 2013

So agree — similar path; churches of all denominations, self-help books lining the shelves — and have been working on “letting go” for a few years now. My remaining mantra is that everything happens just as it’s supposed to. I let go of worrying and manipulating and just trust.

Tara Noelani Correll - January 24, 2013

Beautiful, raw, courage.
Jennifer – you have an amazing knack to expose yourself in just the right amount with the generous intention of helping others.
You live with such realness and grace.
Thank you.

Mary Montanye - January 26, 2013

Your willingness to be so open, so raw, so vulnerable never ceases to astound me. And your ability to always be one step ahead of me. To find the words that are stil unspoken by me but in my heart. I kind of hate the word “blessed” because I think it’s so overused, but there really is no other word for how I feel about finding you and your teachings, having you in my life.

Brenda - January 27, 2013

OMG, Jen, your posts these last weeks – all of them – have just hit the mark for me. Especially this last one. I stopped trying so hard to know awhile back, too. It seemed more important to BE; the “what” and “why” didn’t matter. Just like reading to many self-help books; I got tired of reading and wanted to start DOING. Keep this vein open…you’re providing some new, deep wisdom that some of us have stumbled across, but haven’t been able to articulate.

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[…] friend Jen Louden has written beautifully about losing: “My call is this: Settle into stillness.  Stop learning, stop seeking, stop fussing. There […]

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