Tag Archives: Krista Tippett

Art, ambiguity and loss

Like so many other things in our lives, the Art Caravan’s travelling schedule has been suspended, due to the pandemic.  Instead of bemoaning the specific shows we didn’t see this summer like  L. L. Fitzgerarld at the WAG or Katie Ohe at the Esker  (sigh…) we are going to think about  the work of Pauline Boss, a researcher, professor, author, and therapist who first used the term ambiguous loss in the 1970s.

Doc Snyder's House, L. L. Fitzgerald, 1931

Doc Snyder’s House, L. L. Fitzgerald, 1931

Sky Block, Katie Ohe, Esker Foundation, image by Elyse Bouvier

Ms Boss defines the two types of ambiguous loss:

a physical absence with psychological presence (eg. in situations of divorce, immigration, natural disasters, adoption)

psychological absence with physical presence (eg. dementia, Alzheimers’s, addiction, depression, mental illness, brain injury)

Ambiguous Loss: Learning to Live with Unresolved Grief, by Pauline Boss

The On Being Podcast with Krista Tippett  (audio and/or transcript) provides a very good overview to Ms Boss’s research.  In her introduction to the interview Krista Tippett says You could say of 2020 that we are suddenly in a world of ‘ambiguous loss.’  The conversation with Pauline Boss is, indeed, …full of practical intelligence for shedding assumptions about how we should be feeling and acting that actually deepen stress precisely in a moment like this.

I particularly liked the July 2020 follow-up conversation between Ms Tippett and Ms Boss. This Living the Questions  (audio and/or transcript) segment is honest, affirming and, again, offers practical strategies for these strange and challenging days.

On Being podcast

In the spirit of Ms Boss’s suggestions for coping during the pandemic, The Art Caravan will continue with the ritual of bi-weekly postings.  We acknowledge the sadness and losses we sometimes feel. We will continue to enjoy fabulous, fascinating artwork, artists and ideas.  Now we have the luxury of time to share it with you.

 

 

Adieu Mary Oliver

I was sad to learn that the American poet, Mary Oliver, died in January.  Her poetry was remarkable in its simplicity and truthfulness.  Wild Geese, published in 1986, is one of her most famous poems.

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Wild Geese illustrates her deep connection to the natural world.  She lived simply to pursue her life’s work of writing poetry.  Despite many accolades earned, including The National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Mary Oliver shunned the limelight.  By all accounts, she was most comfortable in the woods.

At Blackwater Pond
At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes
like stone, leaves, fire. It falls cold
into my body, waking the bones. I hear them
deep inside me, whispering
oh what is that beautiful thing
that just happened?

Click here for a rare interview, a 2015 conversation between Krista Tippett and Mary Oliver for On Being. Whether or not you are familiar with her poetry, it’s a fascinating discussion of a life wonderfully lived.

 

Photo of Mary Oliver by Rachel Giese Brown