“Holding on is believing there is only a past; letting go is knowing there is a future.” Daphne Rose Kingma
Do you find it easy to let go of old ways of doing things? Do you often resist change? Are you excited by frequent change?
Every autumn as the leaves fall, I am in awe of how easily and naturally nature moves toward winter. At first, the leaves turn brilliant red, yellow, and orange—a gift that makes us forget how much we loved the lush green of spring and summer. Then, as we revel in this display, the leaves begin to gently drop, showering our yards with color and providing the material to mulch and feed our lawns and gardens. When finally the trees are bare, we discover vistas that were obscured by their leaves, and the sky opens, displaying clouds and stars we couldn’t see before.
Letting Go Is a Natural Part of Nature
As we drift into winter, we remember that in the spring the leaves, flowers, and warmth will return, but now is the time for going inward, to light fires, and snuggle up with lovers and books. It is a time of reevaluation, thinking, and contemplation. Letting go of the past is part of the cycle of life. Each change and each new cycle opens us to a new experience that may enrich our lives and expand our awareness.
Letting Go Creates New Space for New Ideas
Wouldn’t it be nice if letting go were as easy for us as it is for nature? We would experience much less anxiety if we could accept this aspect of change as a natural part of living and understand that letting go creates the space for new growth. As long as we keep the doors of our mind closed, nothing new or beneficial can enter.
We Fear the Unknown
Our reluctance to let go is usually related to our fear of the unknown. Although we may become bored with life always following the same pattern, at least we know what to expect and that feels comforting. The irony is that despite our determination to keep things the same, they change anyway and impact our lives. When we are forced to change by circumstance rather than choice, the more we resist, the more the difficulties persist.
The Unknown May Be Filled With Gifts
On the other hand, some people are always looking for new adventure and find venturing into the unknown exciting. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, experiencing both fear of the unknown, but also being willing to embrace change when necessary. When we believe that, although we can’t predict the future, life often brings us unexpected gifts, we are more likely to let go of the aspects of our lives that aren’t serving us well.
Years ago, when I was divorced in Washington, D. C., I loved living there, but I wanted to teach dance in college, and most of the positions for which I applied were filled by people who had danced with major New York companies. When I was offered a position to teach at a college in central Nebraska, I decided to take a chance. I loved Washington, but I needed an income and didn’t want to give up dance. I had to let go of my life in the east and move on.
It wasn’t easy leaving what I knew—my spiritual and artistic community and friends, but up to this point, my life had been strongly influenced by my parents and then my husband’s needs. I had only visited Nebraska once for the interview, but the opportunity I wanted was there. Like the pioneers who inhabited those plains, I headed out for the unknown land feeling fear and excitement.
Letting Go May Be Transformative
The most important thing I learned from my time in Nebraska was not to judge what I do not know. I loved the students and made some of the best friends I’ve ever had. I learned to not accept appearances but to look deeper to find the subtle beauty of the plains. Most of all, I learned I could adapt to a new environment and that gave me the confidence to believe that letting go of what was comfortable, but limiting, was not so frightening.
Letting go of what no longer serves us can transform our lives. On the personality level, we often become very attached to the work we do for a living. I’ve seen too many people retire and let their lives just slip away because they are not in touch with who they really are. I understand this. It took me a long time to disconnect from identifying myself as a dancer to seeing I was so much more as a person.
My father never made the transition, and unlike many people who use their retirement to become involved with helping others and following their true passions, he seemed to feel his life was over. He became a grandfather and enjoyed that, but still he never completely engaged life again. He just drifted through each day, reminisced about his past achievements, and watched television.
Being Authentic Frees Us
When we are conscious of our interior life as well as our exterior life, we can discover what we need to do in order to live an authentic life. We are able to let go of the persona we developed to please our family or employer and find the courage to reveal who we really are. We shed the superficialities and find the courage to be honest and real. We let go of others expectations and follow our own path into the unknown, finding the future path that will lead us to a meaningful life. Letting go of what limits us is a powerful gift to give ourselves and others.
© 2013 Georganne Spruce ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5
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