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Grasping the gains that came from loss

I once heard a personal finance columnist at the Wall Street Journal say a large majority of the pieces he wrote followed four or five themes and his objective was to always find new ways of saying them in order to hopefully reach readers in a way to inspire action. Thinking about his statement, I feel one of the most common themes I fall upon is the impact a year abroad had on me and how I view the world, despite the fact that almost eight years have passed since that chapter.

The other day I was sitting in a yoga class and before it began, the conversation fell to where people had lived and I was asked about my own experience and I referenced having lived in Malaysia. As the class commenced feelings of loss began to surface, which is one of the things I tend to feel when reflecting on it since my move back to the US wasn’t where my heart was at the time. The relationship that had guided me there was on its way out, the management of the company where I worked wasn’t great, which lead me to seek new employment and yet I was not ready for my international chapter to come to a close. With my work situation coming to a close though, my visa would no longer be valid and thus departing was required.

The period after that was a dark one at times. I am grateful to say there are no tales of depression to emerge from this but I was adrift for sure and felt like an international trajectory and grind adventure had been lost.

But as I contemplated my loss of this during the class, something occurred to me, while I had known the basics of yoga prior to Malaysia, my time steeped in practicing it came after. Would I have ever deepened my practice if I hadn’t moved back? I can’t say. Would I have met the fellow students and teachers I now consider friends? The answer to that is no. My thought pattern wandered from yoga to much of the community I now inhabit.

Over the past 6 years I am fortunate to have become a known quantity in St. Louis's entrepreneurial landscape, would that have happened if I hadn’t moved back? No. Would I know all the great people I now consider friends and mentors as a result? No.

The Leadership St. Louis cohort I feel lucky to have participated in would not have taken place. My relationship with my brother has strengthened considerably in the time since moving back despite his having moved to Denver years ago. I wonder if we would’ve found the same path to recovery if I was still living on the other side of the world? I thought of all the friendships I have made or strengthened since returning. There are people who have impacted my life in significant ways I did not know prior. I would never have met them.

This is not to say other great people are not located all over the world. They of course are. What this day dream placed at my feet is the loss and close of one chapter resulted in gains I otherwise would not have had.

I was reminded that with loss comes the opportunity for rebirth. I went to Malaysia as one person and came back another. This is not where the story ends though despite moments of darkness. This is losing something that made me feel alive when that was no longer an option, once back on my feet I pushed in a new direction, which has yet again, changed my life.

It reminds me that my invocation to “go forth boldly” comes in part from tasting loss and struggle and that’s just fine. It can be hard to believe in tough moments but smooth sailing is not what inspires persistence. Rather it is due to resistance we seek to overcome.

While I could not see it at the time, in some small way, I am thankful for the losses I have endured for shaping me into who I am and casting me out to the journey I am on.

“Not all those who wander are lost”

J.R.R. Tolkien

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