It seems to me that this life is a lot more about letting go than it ever is about holding on. And, yet, holding on is exactly what we do. Not only to our ‘things’ like our home, our job, our kitchen utensils and our mother’s jewellery, but to our fear and our addictions, our habits and opinions. We are enraged at any suggestion of letting any of those go. Why should we? They are ours, after all, hard won and precious. They have become a part of my identity, my shape and form and the biggest settlement of that belief lies in my mind. In truth, I could do with considerably less of everything. So what keeps me holding on?
Fear, that’s what. Some of us remember a painful time of lack; a period when we could barely sleep at the thought of another month of household bills, of our weekly shop for essentials, of new school requirements for our children. It was a deeply distressing time and we are glad it is behind us now. For many, unfortunately, there is nothing ‘behind’ about such anxieties for they are all around right now, and they have teeth and claws. They dominate us. We can think of little else. We can barely breathe.
Fear doesn’t just take over when our physical lives are under attack. It will infiltrate the strongest of minds, attacking us at our very source, that fountain of living water that sustains both mind and body, that keeps us refreshed and rejuvenated whatever life sends our way. We end up with the Nothing. Defeat, in short, leading to apathy, listlessness and the slow death of an imagination. It never starts that big. It begins with a few knocks, a burglary, a loss of something we valued once and still do; sickness, a failed job application, a cruel comment, overheard. And in the dark silence of our minds, it grows. We all know it. None of us are immune.
We all meet chaos every day in some shape or form. How tempting it is and how easy to fly off the handle into blame and rage! It isn’t my fault, obviously, that this person let me down or this thing didn’t arrive on time. On that I will agree. However, if I teach myself to let go of the things over which I have no control, then I will find that gentle state of a calm letting go. I will be free of the Nothing. I am not defeated, not weak. In letting go, I can only ever gain. Not things, not answers to all my questions, not assured success in work, family, love and health, but in that which is unseen. I can begin, over time, to allow myself to feel all the emotions, to let my thoughts flow through my mind, going nowhere and with no ‘correct’ place to land; I can observe whatever happens this day, uncluttered by an old belief system. I can let the weeds and the flowers grow together in the garden of my mind and I can practice the art of simply being me.
Letting go may sound like giving up and yet, it is quite the opposite. When I let go of some old belief, that led me to an old conclusion that, in turn decided my behaviour, my actions, my very way of being me, I free myself from the chains. I remember, once, when asking my husband if he would consider changing the way he did something or said something, something that hurt me, he responded thus:- ‘Why on earth would I want to change? I’m fine the way I am.’ At the time I was crushed. I could feel the Nothing gather her skirts and begin towards me. Now I chuckle because I can see from the distant hilltop of my life that inner change is the key to everything, but I didn’t always think that way. The very thought of me changing my own fixed opinions and beliefs was anathema. Why should I? It isn’t me who needs changing. Now I get it. If I can let an old and outdated belief fly away in the breeze, and if I can let go of my desire to control what happens next, then I am open to transition. And life is transitory, every minute, every second, life is changing. What presents as chaos in a big thing or small is really life in a cocoon state and there is beautiful opportunity just around the corner.
And in those moments of peaceful clarity, even if I have no idea what lies ahead, even in chaos, I can see a butterfly open her wings to a new sunlight.