Aloha! I was cleaning out my computer today (a process that will no doubt take longer than today), and I stumbled upon a blog entry I wrote back in July of this year. It seems that I wrote the post with the intention of sharing it, but I failed to post it. So, with a toast to the Better Late Than Never crowd, here it is. I hope you enjoy it!
Today I want to talk with you about the art of letting go. I have been doing a great deal of letting go in the past month. And while I am no expert, I have managed to learn a few things while navigating the waters of this often difficult challenge.
For starters, I’ve been letting go of a lot of material belongings. I am getting ready to travel for several months, and it just made sense to use this as a catalyst toward a more minimalist existence. I’ve done this purging before, mind you, but, somehow, in the meantime, I managed to amass more stuff. (The powers of consumerism are alive and well.) This has been my chance to lighten the load again … significantly. I’ve sold, donated or dumped almost all of my earthly possessions. I’m now down to a mattress, a mirror, a TV and a bookshelf. And at the end of next month, all those items, save the mattress, will be happily at home with family members who will be able to enjoy them in my absence. The mattress will be stored at a friend’s house. I will be living out of a 19L backpack and a lightweight tote bag for at least the next four months. Letting go of a lot of this stuff was easy, but there were several bits and bobs that had strong sentimental attachments. These items were most difficult to set free. When faced with these items, I just reminded myself that the object wasn’t the memory. The memory I carry inside me. The object is just a reminder of it. So, if it was a really strong attachment, I would photograph the object. Then I could still look to it to spark that memory anytime I wanted without needing to hold on to the object itself.
Another way I’ve been letting go is a bit more personal. I’ve been reading through all my old journals. I’ve been writing in journals – off and on – since high school. (Well, I did have a diary when I was even younger, but it’s secrets have long been lost.) It’s been a very sobering lesson in self-awareness and a fascinating experience in tracking my growth. The goal was to read through all of them and then ceremoniously destroy them by burning the pages, thus releasing all the angst of my younger days from my present life. As I’ve been reading, I’ve noticed my Self attaching to some of them, while others are having no hold over me whatsoever. (In fact, there are more than a few that I am delighted to have removed from the world.) A part of me is really ready to release these old stories into the Universe to rid my connection to them and allow for new change and new growth and new stories. Yet, another part of me wants to continue to hold them so that I can read them again later and remind my Self how far I’ve come on this journey of Life. Alas, I suppose I will make that final decision when I’m finished reading them all. The important thing for me is not to get rid of everything, necessarily. It’s to let go of the things that do not bring me daily joy. It’s about releasing those things that might be holding me back from living a life that truly excites and fulfills me.
Last week, I had to say goodbye to my beloved bunny companion, Anisette. That was the hardest challenge of them all. But, in my heart, I know that it was the best thing for both of us. She was very, very old and her quality of life had begun to really deteriorate. I couldn’t allow myself to prolong her suffering out of my own selfish desire to keep her around for my needs. We got to spend some good quality time together in the days leading up to her death. I tried to focus on how lucky we were to have shared our life paths for so long. And in my grief over her absence I am trying to focus on the love that we created together in our little family of two. That love will always live with me, and will make my heart stronger so that I might share more love with others I meet.
While letting go can be a super difficult process, it is also a great teachable moment. It is only in letting go of those things whose time has passed, that we can open up enough space for new opportunities and connections to arrive. This is growth. Just like plants need to be pruned occasionally to encourage new and fuller foliage, so do we need to periodically cut away the ballast to encourage new adventures and experiences.
What are your experiences with letting go? How have you handled them? Please feel encouraged to share your stories in the comments below.