Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Few Thoughts on Letting Go

Death leads us to hold onto things when embracing life means letting go.

When I was 17, my dad died. He was the sun to my solar system, so to speak. I lived and breathed for that man, which doesn't sound all that healthy, but he lived and breathed for us, so it seemed only fair. My whole life until that point revolved around one truth: Dad would always be there.

When someone dies, it knocks you on your ass. And it can take years to get back up. I've learned, the hard way, that getting back up isn't even the hardest part. Its the first battle, sure, but its the walking and running, well, basically living again that can become a battle every single day. Maybe its a battle without end. And maybe that's just life. But there are triumphs, there are realizations, loves, joys, and of course, more tragedies to knock you on your ass. Yes, that is definitely life. Yet you keep getting back up, because... well, why wouldn't you? This life is glorious when you embrace it.

And yet.

Death leads us to hold onto things when embracing life means letting go.

So life isn't just learning to walk again after you fall and break. Its about learning to let go to all of the things that tragedy has led you to hold onto, so you can embrace life with gusto.

Here are some things that have burrowed so deeply within me that I've going to have to dig them out before I can let them go:

I can recognize this as my greatest handicap in life, as it has been so far.
I know that when I was younger, I was afraid of plenty, but there are so many things
that terrify me now that I wouldn't have even thought to fear when Dad was alive.
Death, of course, is the biggest. I haven't had the luxury of waiting until my mid-forties
to face my mortality. And that fear of death has branched off into so many other fears,
including a fear of life. I could spend whole posts listing all of the things that I fear
now, but that's not important. The only thing that matters is to let go so it no longer
keeps me from the passionate life I crave. Make no mistake, fear can hold you
back more than anything else in your life, including circumstances.
You must let go of fear.

"Ultimately we know deeply that on the other side of every fear is freedom."
-Marilyn Ferguson

The Past
It seems obvious that we would cling to a past with our lost loved one in it. But that is
not the past I hold close to me. Instead I hold close the failures as almost every day reminders.
The mistakes I see myself having made, the things I wish I could change, the do-overs
I go through in my mind. I see myself as wiser today and so think that I would
surely make different choices. But today is brilliant and would not be as it is without
those choices, so why do I dive so often into my sea of regret?
You must let go of the past.

"Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves -
regret for the past and fear of the future."
-Fulston Oursler

The Future
Ah, the future, that tricky temptress. Her siren song lulls us into a placid, spectator
existence as we allow ourselves to believe that life will be better when such-and-such
happens at such-and-such time in the future. Life will be awesome when we get to
college. And then, life will be awesome when we start our careers. Or, life will
be so much better once we get out of this place. And so lulled, we let the present
pass us by as we wait for the "better" future to come. Well, you know what?
All I have, all any of us have, is right now. The future is an illusion, folks;
there is no guaruntee of tomorrow, so we need to make this day the
best day we can have. We need to find a way to embrace every moment of it,
 or the future's song will have us simply waiting for death under the illusion that
we are waiting for the ever-elusive "more" of tomorrow.
You must let go of the future.

Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.

(The Illusion of) Control
I've actually made some headway over the years in letting go of this, with the help
of inadvertant lessons from my husband who has a singular ability to just 'roll' with things.
But here it goes: We do not have control over our lives. We can make choices, that's
great, but there will always be something to come along, wrest your 'control' away
from you, and once again, knock you on your ass. This is inevitable. It can make us
stronger, more compassionate, more giving and loving towards others (because we
can control how we react to the uncontrollable), but its going to happen
(probably time and time again), and many times it will hurt like hell. You know
you can do about it? Let go.
You must let go of the idea of controlling your life.

"My friend, the panda will never fulfill his destiny,
nor you yours until you let go of the illusion of control."
-Kung Fu Panda

I'm going to keep this simple. Having lost so much, I have clung to material items
for fear of losing even more, even the most mundane objects. This has not led
to a better or more secure life. So many possessions, mine and those of ones long gone,
have become a weight, an anchor chaining me to habit, to grief, to the past. To a 'me'
that is no longer, a 'me' that has long since made her way out of a coccoon that
was far too small, a 'me' that can only fly once the weight of all those 'things'
has been released. We must not cling to what we own. I'm not saying that I need
to give up my worldly possessions to embrace life, but those that weigh me down?
We must let go of possessions that become a weight in our lives.
Life is made up of experiences, not things.

"Be content with what you have... When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you."
-Lao Tzu

And now I leave you with a few thoughts from those far more eloquent and wise than I:

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."
-Lao Tzu

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials."
-Chinese Proverb

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."
-Gearge Bernard Shaw

No comments:

Post a Comment