I believe that life is a series of lessons in learning to let go; letting go of loved ones and not-so-loved ones; letting go of prejudices, grudges and regrets; letting go, at times, even of life itself. A series of lessons in letting go of unrealistic expectations and worn-out ideas, dreams that won’t go and goals that don’t fit; letting go of the need to blame, the need to justify, the need to fix, the need to understand. Lessons in learning to let go of fears; fear of failure, of being misunderstood and of taking chances; fear of the unknown, fear of being alone, and fear of letting go.
The first lesson in letting go I learned from my father. My father was not the person that I needed him to be. Some would say not the father that he should have been. Just maybe he was simply being the only person he knew how to be. Small town lawyer, judge and social worker each told me that he did indeed have power over me until I was 18 years old and that he could “send me away” if I left his home. So quietly I waited and silently I watched the abuse and I wondered how I ended up in such a family. On my 18th birthday, I went to his workshop with suitcase in hand and had the only meaningful conversation I would ever have with a man that I could not call “father” and could not look eye-to-eye. I said: “I’m leaving.’’ He said: “When are you coming back?” I said: “I’m not.” While that one day and that one decision was a significant turning point in my life, it was not until years later that I learned the true lesson in letting go. The real letting go came when I no longer hated, no longer blamed nor even questioned. The real letting go was of the idea that my life was directly tied in to what came before and that who I am and who I am to become can be dictated by situations not of my making. The real letting go translates into taking control of one’s life and one’s choices without weighing against external circumstances.
I believe that learning the art of letting go is the greatest gift one can give to oneself. The art of letting go allows for the forgiving of others and maybe more importantly of oneself. It means giving up on the need to make right for the sake of right’s sake. It allows for new ideas to take hold and replace worn-out thoughts and harmful biases. It allows for a giving up without a giving in, a quiet acceptance while retaining a will to change and a will to challenge. It means allowing for the possibility that major truths might coexist even as contradictions. It means live and let live, and love and let love. It means making room for new adventures, new paths and new ways of being. Letting go allows for the heart, soul, mind and spirit to take in the new, appreciate what is already there and to experience the present to it fullest extent.
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