It seems that today, we all have a hard time letting go. We need more and more memory space on our computers and physical space in our storages.
We hold on to everything, from childhood toys to old keys. We even hold on to friendships that are destructive and draining.
Are we being optimistic or simply naïve? I suppose this is because we believe that hanging on to something when the going gets tough is a sign of strength.
The truth is, there are instances when it takes much more strength to just let go.
It appears that our greatest flaw is that we forge an identity with our possessions and relationships.
This is 'my' car, 'my' home and 'my' boyfriend.
It's as if we believe all of our possessions add up to "me." Sometimes, we hold on because we want to preserve associated memories. However, this only tethers us to the past and confines and restricts our present moments.
The things themselves might not be significant, but it is the meaning we attach to them that makes them priceless. It isn't the literal sense of clinging to them that weighs us down, but how we think of them that symbolizes the limits we create for ourselves.
Our memories are not materials under our beds or in our attics. They are with us wherever we go. Therefore, we ought to make conscious decisions about whether holding on to something exalts us or imprisons us.
Letting go of people means acknowledging the fact that things didn't work out and things ought to be better.
It is neither the indication of weakness nor defeat, but rather the courage to accept our situations and the reality of our futile efforts that matters. It is the audacity to want something greater for ourselves and for other people.
We maintain unsuccessful relationships because they give us a sense of who we are, however false or true that may be. Unfortunately, we often hold on to our pain far beyond its ability to serve and teach us. Moments of suffering are meant to empty us so that we may have the potential to tap into our truest depths.
Robert Frost says, "The best way out is always through." This is because stifling our feelings only incites them to later manifest in destructive ways.
Before we can let go of anything, we must completely experience things for what they are. If we truly allow ourselves to "feel" every emotion, they no longer enslave us. Only once we accept them for their entirety can we begin to let go.
The Art of Letting Go
I sometimes wonder how much of ourselves we can strip away before we lose ourselves entirely, like peeling the proverbial layers of an onion until all we are left with is the sinewy root.
But, isn't that the very essence of the circle of life? To reap and sow, create and destroy? Aren't they the very fibers with which we weave our tapestries of growth and progress?
Maybe the trick is not to lose our most fundamental qualities in the process: morals and values, decency and humanity. Those are the building blocks of the foundation that holds the entire structure upright. Once these blocks are removed, sure enough, it will crumble to pieces.
Maybe we ought to be like the butterfly perching on a flower. It experienced a remarkable metamorphosis and ultimately shed its chrysalis in exchange for wings that enabled it to fly. What might have seemed like a loss to the caterpillar was a triumph for the butterfly.
Therefore, it is only when we let go of a part of what we are that we will be able to make room for what we may become.
So, go ahead, pluck the outer petals of that flower. You may find that its fragrance does not diminish after all. A disciple of Tibetan Buddhism, Pema Chödrön, stated,
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.
Photo Courtesy: We Heart It