Today, in my language class, we talked about some of the many meanings and applications of the word алдах, which means “to lose.” These include: to have successes and failures, to drop, to give away a secret, to lose one’s life, to be nervous, to be careless, to accidentally set fire, to lose the paunch, to shout, to behave improperly, to lose one’s way, to become a mess, to be afraid of, to burst out laughing, to lose faith, to lose money, to lose sleep, to lose color, to sigh, to miss hardening (horse), to be uncomfortable, to leave water running accidentally, to lose consciousness, to let something out, to lose one’s footing, to be stolen, to lose one’s strength, to measure incorrectly, to lose time, to look weak or sick, to lose blood, to urinate, and to be in a muddle.
I guess, in English, we have quite a few expressions about losing things too. The loss by which I’ve been most beset the past couple of days is loss of balance. Yesterday, after dropping Elijah off at kindergarten, I headed to the bus stop to catch a micro to school. The ground was a sheet of ice, and when I stepped on the top step of a set of concrete stairs, I found myself momentarily flying through the air and subsequently flying down the steps on my rear end. Stunned but apparently unhurt, I made my way to the bus stop and on to school, marveling at the sight of Mongolians who seem to be able to use the icy ground to their advantage, fearlessly skiing down both steep and gentle slopes. I made it safely to right in front of the school, where I again хөл алдсан, i.e. lost my foot.
My in-laws kindly bought me some nice snow spikes for my shoes which do an excellent job of keeping me upright, and they work well with my dress shoes and probably with my tennis shoes. Unfortunately, however, on these -40 temperature days, I prefer to wear the boots my brother-in-law gave me. They do an admirable job of keeping my feet warm, but they are so bulky that the spikes tend to slip off of them. I have twice had to backtrack a block or two to track down a missing set of spikes. So, it’s a choice of warmth or sure footing.
However, just a few minutes ago, my stocking feet slipped on our parquet floors and left me lying in the middle of the living room. So perhaps I should be worried more about some inner ear infection and less about what kind of shoes I’ll wear tomorrow.
I guess sometimes losing isn’t all bad, though. Check out this classic song from Steve Taylor:
A few years ago, I chose the theme “Jesus is for Losers” for our youth retreat at Harmony Hill Youth Camp. I believed it then, but I think I’m growing in my understanding of what that means. Until we begin to realize how seriously we have lost our way, we can’t really comprehend how much we need a Savior.