I’ve been clinging for so long, I’m only 40 years old but it’s making me so tired. I’m exhausted by the relentless need for whatever it is that I deem missing from my life. That thing, circumstance or person, that if I just had would give me purpose or happiness. If only I had that perfect job then I would be happy. If only I had a certain amount of money then I would feel secure. There will always be something to grasp for, always.
Letting go is acceptance; acceptance of the current reality in which I find myself. How can I come into acceptance? I plan to find out.
Life is always presenting us with opportunities to let go. Change is life’s way of teaching us to let go. Aging is the lifelong process of letting go, whether we like it or not. My experience as a mother is also a daily reminder to let go of my rapidly growing children. Being present in this moment is so critical because in an ever changing world if we don’t cherish what we have right now the chance to love what is in the now will never come again. The only way for us to be present is to let go of our worries, plans, hopes, and dreams in order to be fully satisfied with our current lives as they are.
A woman in my Al-anon group was fond of saying “Everything I ever loved had claw marks on it.” I understand this sentiment well. It’s so hard for me let go of what I love. But I’m learning that letting go doesn’t have to mean giving up or leaving claw marks. Letting go is about trust, it’s about choosing to focus on what we can change. What we can change always comes down to changing our attitude. We can choose an “unconditional positive regard”, as Ralph Smart said, for our current situation.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”
Ultimately the only thing we really have control of is the act of letting go. It may seem that we have control over our thoughts, words, and actions. But on a deeper level letting go is the one authentic act we can take. Once we let go, we give up the control we seem to have over thought, word and action. We give that control to our Higher Self.
“Life is what happens when we’re busy making plans.” If we are so focused on the plans because we think that’s our job – focusing on what we truly cannot control – we miss the present moment, we miss life.
Letting go is relinquishing our resistance to what it is we do not want in our lives. It’s choosing to trust that something bigger than us will direct us away from what we do not want or what we fear. Then we can be free to enjoy the moment and truly appreciate what is in our life now. This is the way we can make the most of life and find happiness.
Ralph Smart said “You’re going to have to give it up anyways” in reference to his choice to follow a vegan diet. He chose not to focus on giving up what he loved (like his mom’s chicken) but on what he loved about a dietary choice that brought meaning to his life. Yet, he’s right, we have to let go of everything at some point. All our possessions, our home, the people we love; they are not ours forever. At some point we have to let go of all these worldly things. That is why aging is a constant process of letting go. We can do that with resistance or we can do that with an open heart and trust. I would rather let go on my own terms than have life force me to let go.
Richard Bach’s story in the book Illusions about the little creature choosing to let go is so powerful. It’s when we make the choice to let go, and trust, that we find that what we were clinging on to so fiercely will always be with us; because it is us. We are one with all we love.
There is a plaque on the wall next to me as I write this which says:
“What we have once enjoyed, we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”
Letting go is looking into our hearts and knowing this to be true and trusting that we never lose what we love.