When I ran across the above mentioned David Foster Wallace quote, I laughed. I hooted and pounded my fist on the desk. I thought it was so hilarious, I posted it on my Facebook page where a large number of my posse ‘liked’ it. Clearly it hit a raw nerve.
It’s funny, but it’s painfully funny.
Let it go
I realized I need to stop trying to catch the river of life in my bare hands.
Life must continually move and flow. Otherwise, we stagnate or atrophy. Our souls wither. Letting go is a huge part of that. If we don’t let go and allow ourselves to be changed, we will find ourselves becoming more and more stuck, and end up mired in things that we do not want, rather than those we do.
Imagine if a toddler refused to let go of his or her ability to crawl in favor of standing upright and walking. That’s just silly, right?
Of course, we learn to walk and talk because that’s what we do. We’re not letting go of anything by doing so.
Yes, we are. We are releasing one version of ourselves so that we can foster another.
“You can only lose what you cling to.” ~ Buddha
Building a Big Life
So, despite our relentless need to hang on, we must learn to let go. Let go of our father’s hand while we learn to ride a bike. Let go of our baby teeth and the shoes we outgrow. Let go of soft food in favor of solid food. Let go of our mother’s protective gaze.
From its inception, life is about letting go. In order to be born, we must forego the cozy, wet, warm womb that is our first, most primordial home. We must eventually leave our family’s home and build our own lives. We must become comfortable with uncomfortable truth that nothing is permanent. Life builds us up, only to strip us down to beggar’s bones in the end. We spend the first half of our lives accumulating material possessions, only to spend the last half figuring out what do with them when we are gone.
“When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.” ~ Eckhart Tolle
My mother and I often talk about this paradox. She’s in the twilight of her life, wondering what things to hang onto and what to let go. The reality that she cannot keep anything when she goes, hovers close in her mind. In the end, everyone walks into the river of death as naked and alone as they were on the day they were born.
The only certainty is that everything changes.
How do we become comfortable with maintaining a light touch with our lives? How do we loosen our grip and just enjoy the ride, no matter what darkness, valley, or foreign land it takes us to? How do we learn to let the water take us?
Our thoughts create the world. If we resist what is, if we hang on — claws out, hair on end — we are missing out on all that might fill that blank space if we readily allowed it to empty. As terrifying as it is to venture into the void, to let ourselves off the hook, to float alone in this oceanic world, there are times that we simply must let go of what is. Otherwise, as the *Zen proverb above stipulates, we can look forward to being dragged until we do finally let go of whatever it is that is not for us.
“Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.”~ Herman Hesse
These days I am letting go of whatever blocks I have toward love, prosperity, abundance and joy.
I am making an executive decision to do so. That means I will willingly stop milling around sadness, paralytic depression, and general soul-sucking ennui, no matter how familiar and comfortable I may be with those feelings. Just because they feel familiar to me doesn’t mean we should be on speaking terms. I am often loyal as a god damn dog to things, people, and situations that I should kick to the curb. Why? Perhaps there is something romantic in pining for lost love like a character in a Gothic novel.
Doing so doesn’t make me into some sort of melancholy heroine. It just makes me look like a cat hanging on the drapes as the fabric begins to give way.
Please, release me
So, what is in our lives that we need to release? Where’s the deadwood, the rot? Does someone really need to force us to give up the tiny pair of pants that we will never get our asses into ever again? Can’t we willingly pack up the stuff that we no longer need, and ship it off to someone who might give it a new home? Will we sever toxic ties and cut the cord on situations that suck us dry?
We cannot return to the past.
We can only savor this day. Taste it. Revel in it. Soak it up. Bask in all that it is.
However, when twilight comes — when the blue hour at dusk surrounds us — we cannot hold onto it.
We must let it go.
© 2014 Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved
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