At a workplace meeting sometime ago, a senior coworker kept interjecting ‘but we have done it differently all along!’ each time new technological inputs were discussed. Ultimately, the chairperson said, ‘ let go of the way it was!”.
Its one of the hardest things to do, while it sounds so simple. “Let go” the two magical , short and simple words are replete with confusion and difficulty. Whether flowing from ancient philosophical thought or the Whatsapp message of a friend, these two words are doled out as advice, as a solution and as a way of life.
I recollect, as a child when a favorite toy broke, or something of value was lost, I was consoled by ‘let it go’. Often followed by ‘you will get another’! As one grew up, letting go was advised on various occasions about myriad things, and increasingly without the assurance about getting a substitute! And as one understood life’s processes further – letting go became the survival mantra.
Did not get that coveted job? Had a misunderstanding or grave fight with your significant other? Feelings not reciprocated? Someone said or did something that hurt? Work processes changing ….In all cases, the mantra was to ‘let go’. And it was almost always damn hard to do.
At this juncture in life, with more than fifty revolutions around the sun, I wonder why it is so difficult to let go.
Is it our hoarder instinct that does not allow us to let go? Do we hold on to hurt, anger, desire, longing, disappointment and rage. simply because we homo sapiens are accumulators by nature? Evolved to hold onto anything that is a part of us.
Or is it ego – that big E word that stops us? Somehow letting go means in some way losing or giving up on a stand, on a position one has taken. It becomes a challenge to our ego.
Whatever the reason; I have not yet found the answer, but I do know that letting go is very hard.
To let go from within is a process that needs attention and effort. It is a decision and choice. Some years ago, I was struggling with the demise of a relationship. I had forgiven, but had not managed to let go the associated issues that confronted me. One night as I lay in bed, a scene from the movie Titanic came unbidden to my mind. When life beckons in the unending cold ocean, Rose unclasps Jack’s lifeless hand and lets him sink into the ocean. At that moment I did the same with all the baggage surrounding me. I imagined that I had unclasped it and it had sunk into oblivion. I repeated that imagery many times. And it worked! From being something that hurt, and shook my life’s path, the whole episode became a mere bad memory.
Life is ultimately a long journey of letting go. Along the way we add some, leave some, and let go of most. Increasingly, I find I let go of things people did or said, or even things I looked forward to or wanted to do, if needed. Because as we grow closer to the realization of our own mortality, letting go becomes the simplest way to live. Choosing to let go brings equanimity and inner peace.
However, the murmurings of dreams closely held, cherished and aspired for are another matter. Dreams – they belong to another realm. Dreams propel and move us, compelling us to reinvent and rediscover ourselves in their quest. Holding on to them brings meaning to life.
Imagine, if after consigning Jack to the ocean Rose had continued to freeze under the star filled sky, and not tumbled into the freezing water to stop the boat. The story would have made no sense!
All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.