Letting go. Thanks to a certain popular Disney movie, that phrase is now sung with sweet abandon among the playground set, and probably with sweet abandon in drop-off lines, harried commutes, and in solo earbud singing workout routines. In early January, when I was finally letting go of someone precious, this phrase seemed to be everywhere, on magazine covers, in newspaper headlines, in snippets of stories heard on the radio, among conversations with friends, and in a minister’s sermon. Indeed, a new anthem for the new year.
What are we letting go of? What does it mean? What happens when you do, finally, let go? What does it mean for the thing, the emotion, the person to be let go? Is it merely a solo exercise, or can it occur with two people letting go together? In the song and in the scenarios described above, letting go is seen as a positive thing. Is it ever a bad thing to let go?
I can’t answer all of the questions I’ve raised, but I have been letting go of a lot recently. Maybe I wasn’t really letting go of a person, but clearing away in all aspects of my life.
Here is what I let go of and what it means to me right at this moment.
I let go of belongings that have gathered dust. I find meaningful homes for these items among people I love and I feel excited to see these things gain their usefulness again.
I let go of expectation. Instead of being disappointed by my expectations, I prepare and see where my actions, rather than my expectations, will take me.
I let go of a person. Really, though, I let go of my one-sided drama and hope that when we emerge on the other side there will be friendship, but I know it may mean that person is no longer in my life. It hurts, but it will be okay.
I let go of my phone and Facebook for a few weeks. It feels weird not to check in with faraway friends, but I know I need to put my nose to the grindstone to accomplish some goals in these next couple of months.
I let go of my shackles. Isn’t it weird that we can be our own wardens, with the keys to freedom dangling tantalizingly close, but the comfort of routine can be paralyzing and incarcerating.
I let go of dreams. I live a good portion of my life daydreaming. I enjoy it, but sometimes I realize I am like Walter Mitty, and that I need to stand up, stop dreaming, and start doing.
I let go of clutter. In the last week, I have moved things, unpacked, heaved, thrown, donated, recycled, and cleared away. Finally, after six months of living in this place, I have carved out a beautiful space for sleeping, writing, reflecting, listening, yoga, and bike riding (my bike on a trainer), all within my wonderful small bedroom.
I let go of denial. I finally pulled out the bills and added up the total of a debt. The amount feels scary, but there is relief in knowing, and I have a plan and a budget to dig my way out of the debt.
I let go of plans for a March race and vacation. I had made tentative plans to enter a half marathon in southern New Mexico and stay with a friend on the way and then have a girls’ weekend with a long-lost friend. With my budget concerns, I let it go, but admitted to the people involved that it won’t take place. We have plenty of time to make new plans, perhaps for a fall adventure and friend get-together.
I let go of anxiety and stress. This is a daily challenge, sometimes even by the moment. I tend to be emotional and stew in my feelings. I am learning to live in the moment and to breathe. More importantly, I am living in the moment and breathing. It’s not so much about learning this one, as doing.
I let go of procrastination. This is another challenge and I tend to live in the last-minute, but I am slowly building projects into smaller steps, whether for work, or for my own chores, or my own writing goals. It reminds me of my marathon training plan. You don’t just run 26.2 miles, you start with steps and build from there.
I let go of caring what people think. This is still hard for me, but I am interested, now, in blazing my own path, and not necessarily in listening to the concerns and admonitions of others.
I let go of reaching out to someone. Sometimes it’s good to reach out for help and sometimes you realize the work needs to be done by yours truly.
I let go of old routines. I am shaking up things in all aspects of my life. There is a lot of confusion and less clarity at this point. It seems like it will be this way for a while, but I am learning to take comfort in new shapes and new shadows.
There is more to let go. As we let go, we find freedom, peace, new light, clarity, new projects, pain, soothing, music, footsteps, and space. We find space for new people, new ideas, new experiences, and space for the old that we need. It does not mean a completely new slate. We bring our experiences, our scars, our damages, the pain we have inflicted on others, but we bring it with wisdom and kindness and hope.
How does letting go free you? What do you let go of and what do you catch in your free hands?
Letting go is a constant and continual process. It is part of life. It is part of our souls and hearts. We let go, we carry, we find light, we find life.