Sunday, October 27, 2013

that "letting go" thing

While drooling through Pinterest earlier I came upon this quote pinned by a friend. "Letting Go" mantras can run the gamut from eliciting eye-rolling, "oh, pleeeeeze!" responses, to making one stop to consider a candidate for allocation to the "wisdom" category. Where the one I've included here, prompting this post, will wind up is as yet undecided. It did, however, draw me here for reflection. It seems I really only reflect on the blog these days.

Letting go is a very personal thing, one reason the plethora of adages can appear so trite and, at times, seem dismissive.  Before one can really talk about letting go it's important to consider why one is holding on. Is it a precious memory? A lesson learned the hard way that continues to be instructive when revisited? Is it a thorn in our side that provides a masochistic pleasure? Is it immaturity? Unrequited love? Long-suffering patience? Sage endurance? Is it like sand in our inner oyster, working its way toward pearl-like perfection? Does someone else's action (or lack thereof) hold us captive to a particular set of baggage?

I've done my share of holding on, and I'd like to think that most of what has been held has also been released.  There are probably as many paths that led to each release as contributed to the matter lingering in my possession in the first place.  In some cases I have gone to bed carrying a particular weight on my soul only to wake without it. Call it magic, mystical, or early dementia--poof! gone.  At other times shedding the cling-on was like trying to flick scotch tape off your finger. It would not go into that good night.

Other matters have lived with me almost like a comfy cardigan. Their presence kept me processing whatever led to me holding on in the first place, and in due time resolution was achieved and transformation experienced. Frankly, that's really the best kind of holding on.  It gets you somewhere in a purposeful way.

Lately I've come to believe (because this quote had me stop to realize it) that holding on just isn't worthy of my time, I don't care what it is that begs for holding. More often than not holding on doesn't accomplish anything but to drain and redirect our energy in ways that just aren't helpful. As I age I am more respectful toward the limits life imposes on us, making my time (and what I do with it) more valuable. 

I still watch too much TV, for instance, but at least now I do other things while watching: I cross-stitch, or plan menus, or massage a dog or two, or make an effort to clear the kitchen table of its clutter. I shift loads of laundry or do dishes. I get up and move, even if it is only down the hall and back to relocate some object that has been kept out of its place for too long. Or I dust the piano. Pick up bits of dog hair that have collected in front of a chair, or between pieces of furniture.  I don't have the time, according to the clock or my psyche, to be bothered with hanging on to things. I have no use for the weight of the issues that dance through  my days or clog my thoughts. I'm more interested in engaging my molecules in other ways.

Sure, there are loiterers, but they're not around without my consent and an established purpose. I think that's okay.  I really prefer to travel light, though on occasion my "leisure activity" totes mean multiple trips to load and unload the car. You know, camera and books and cross stitch and other assorted projects to tend when I have the luxury of leaving home.

As I've worked my way through this post I have concluded that as nice as the quote at the top of the page is, it still lumps the notion of hanging on and letting go into a single, unpleasant mass.  That won't do. It doesn't honor our unique stories or the way that our "stuff" shapes us--for better or worse. It is true that our baggage can be heavy, but it can also teach us things that we wouldn't learn without learning how to carry it. I believe that when we do carry our loads for a tad longer than might be necessary, the day does come when we are ready to set down the weight and say, "enough!" 

If we don't, we'll get out of kilter, lose our balance and stumble, and we'll get crushed under the power the unpleasantness has had over us all along.

Letting go? Strive for it, but honor the process of getting to the point of release.

That is all. 


The Bug said...

I don't tend to hang onto things - but that doesn't mean they're actually resolved. I just "forget" them or say "never mind" & poof, they're gone. That's probably not all that healthy either :)

Jayne said...

Boy, but isn't it hard to let go of patterns of behavior? I get so comfortable with things being the way they've always been. Letting go takes risk, and that is oh, so hard sometimes. But, if we don't let go of stuff not so good for us, we can't make room for all the good stuff to come.


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