Thursday, April 7, 2011

Letting Go

 (Update for Aug. 13, 2012...I am reposting this in response to a friend who could not understand how I could easily let go of some older art pieces by basically giving them away over the weekend.
 In the past two years I've learned many lessons in loss, courage, perseverance, love, hope, and letting go. I've also been examining ideas about attachment and releasing from my life what does not serve me anymore. My friend, also an artist, told me that my willingness to part with these particular art pieces made her feel sick. This forced me to later examine a little deeper some issues about attachment - was I wrong to be giving the paintings away, I wondered?
A few years ago I would not have been so likely to part with things that I had created; however, I've no desire at this point in my life to cling tightly to that which no longer reflects who I am. This summer found me in a series of situations where I've been forced to examine attachments I have to people, places, and things that I need to release order to achieve the dreams I have for my life. I am always striving to attain a detachment from the material, even that which I create, in order to be ready to fully embrace the ever-increasing new beauty, joy, and experiences life offers. In the past couple of months, I have let go of books, paintings, clothing, and household goods once near and dear to my heart, but which I now feel would better serve someone else. It has been liberating! I have also let go of the idea that everything I create is of tremendous value and needs to be preserved for eternity - another liberation! 
My recent yarn-bombing experiments, while time consuming and precious to me, are prime examples of detachment...I checked on an installation yesterday only to find it has been burned in several places, my 'vandalism' essentially destroyed by vandals. That is the risk of putting something out in the open. It is the same with relationships, we put our hearts out into the open...and sometimes we get burned. I have learned to give  myself permission to let go of those who seek to beat me down rather than lift me up, no matter how much I love and care for them or how much time, effort and energy I've vested into lifting them up. And while is infinitely harder than letting go of an old shirt; giving away a painting; or deciding for the first time in years to visit a new destination rather than a familiar vacation spot, in the end our choices define our lives - what we hold on to, and what we let go of, becomes the story of us, page by page.
Letting go is a skill that comes easier with practice. I often fight it, as most do. But as Pema Chodron states, "Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know." And what is meant to return to you always will. Letting go involves courage and trust, belief in what we cannot see or understand, and above all, love. Holding on involves fear of the unknown and need for control and belief in the ego. It has taken me years and overcoming a series of losses/disappointments to reach a place of peace with detachment. If you are struggling with this as well, be patient and kind and loving to yourself. Everyone has thier own journey, their own life lessons to learn...but always in thier own time. Nothing can be rushed, it unfolds as it should. Breathe through the fear and tell yourself you are bold enough to finally let go of what (or who) just doesn't serve you anymore.)

Letting Go, originally posted April 2011
Yesterday's post focused on saying no to requests that do not honor our spirits and have the potential to drain us mentally. Saying no to what isn't working or what will spread us too thin is a life skill, just like the ability to let go of what is not working to bring us happiness and joy is essential to living in a bold, intentional way.

Letting go, just like saying no, is frightening. It's easy if we are letting go of something old in order to immeditately embrace something new. But to surrender a hope, a love, or a dream when there is no new one there to take it's place is a different form of letting go, and it requires a lot more courage.

It's easy to replace something with something else, and unfortunately, many people make a habit of taking that route in order to avoid the pain, grief, and loneliness that letting go often involves. But sometimes, we just have to let go of something and accept the pain that comes with loss. We have to sit with it and experience it and accept it as part of the full cycle of life.

Living in a bold way comes with risks. Sometimes we're going to lose. But it's much worse to try and cling to something or someone that simply isn't working in our lives. The pain of loss will eventually pass, but we can't even start to move on if we're still hanging on.

Instead of clinging to what is clearly not serving us anymore, we need to be bold and step away, once and for all, from a person, job, or situation that we know is bringing us down, keeping us blocked, preventing us from being truly happy. Letting go can look many ways. It can be symbolic. It can involve prayer, meditation, and rituals that help us feel stronger. Or it can be as simple a gesture as not returning a phone call or email from someone who we need to release from our lives. But as long as we are still attached to things, habits, situations, or people who don't help us reach our purpose, we will remain blocked to new opportunities for love, happiness, and growth.

Be bold. If there is something in your life you need to release, do it today.

No comments:

Post a Comment