“Sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.”—Eckert Tolle
I’ve done it a thousand times, but this time something went wrong. I was bringing Tank out of his paddock to go up to the barn, when another horse squeezed between us, pulling Tank’s lead rope tight. In response to the pressure, Tank pulled back, jerking the lead rope out of my hand. Because I didn’t have the good sense to drop the rope when I first felt a tug, the result was a severe rope burn on the palm and middle finger of my left hand. I spent the remainder of my time at the barn with my hand wrapped around an icy water bottle, and the rest of the week healing.
While this was an instance of literally needing to let go, it reminded me that there are plenty of attitudes, expectations, fears, worries, opinions, burdens, and limitations we—I —should let go of. We’re often taught about the importance of persevering—not so often about letting go.
I’m now of an age where letting go is taking center stage. My son is grown and my role in the family is changing. I’m becoming less interested in what others think of me, so I’m reevaluating what I do and how I do it. I’m setting aside certain desires and dreams to make room for new ones. None of this is easy, and it starts with letting go.
As you might have guessed, letting go does not come naturally to me. I’m more inclined to cling, to fight change, to stay rigid. What am I so afraid of? Pain? Discomfort? Chaos? Pain, discomfort, and chaos are part of life. Holding tight to that lead rope reminded me that holding on doesn’t protect me from pain. Sometimes it causes it. And here’s the thing about letting go:
It reduces the pain. If I’d dropped the rope as soon as I felt Tank pull against it, I wouldn’t have gotten hurt. I don’t know why I was hanging on so hard—there was no real reason for it. Sometimes we hang on so hard, and for what?
It allows us to regroup and move on. Tank trotted off only a couple of strides and the other horses did nothing but sniff noses or flick an ear in his direction. I was easily able to collect him and resume our walk up to the barn. Sometimes it’s only when we’ve let go that we see the way out of our difficulty, or the excellent alternative to what we were clinging to in the first place.
If we’re in a situation where we’re clinging hard to a person, belief, or outcome, and we’re miserable and frustrated much of the time, perhaps it’s time to at least consider letting go. Take a few minutes, close our eyes, imagine what it would be like to let go. Do we feel relief? Panic? Deep sorrow? Visualizing letting go might offer us the breathing room we need to see a better option for moving forward. If our attitudes and expectations rob us of happiness, we should let them go. If we’ve tied our happiness to a particular outcome that we just can’t seem to produce, it might be time to let that go, too.
In a case of perfect timing, yesterday, our yoga teacher, Tina, finished the class by reading us the following poem as we lay in final relaxation pose:
She Let Go
She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the “right” reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all the memories that held her back. She let go of all the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
—Rev. Safire Rose
What are you clinging to? Is it time to let go?