“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go.” — Pi Patel from the movie Life of Pi
One of the concepts that I’ve been wrestling with since my days as a child is the impermanence of people and things. It all began with the death of my Norwegian grandmother, then the death of my nasty parakeet (I say nasty because the thing use to bite me anytime I got near it :-D), then the death of my uncle, then my dog Ruffles died, then we sold my childhood home (which was a very tough change), and then my dad died unexpectedly. All by the time I was 10-years-old.
The concept of loss became a companion that I hoped and prayed would go away. Yet — it has followed me into my late thirties and will continue to do so until I’m 100. Nothing is permanent.
I can either be friends with this concept — or I can allow for it to drive me into the ground.
As Surya Lama Das puts it, “In life, pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.”
I know… I know… he makes it sound so simple. I wish that by actively acknowledging this fact I didn’t suffer, but that would be the lie of a century. For example, when my five-year relationship came to an end a few years ago, I was broken. Horribly pained. I became a hermit. My yoga practice eventually fell away. My writing suffered. Even my people skills turned to mush.
However, there came a time (actually several times) that I realized it was time to move forward. I learned that moving forward didn’t negate or do away with the beautiful times that we experienced; rather, it opened new doors that will lead me one step closer to where I need to be.
Letting go comes in so many forms. It can mean letting go of a limiting conception, a habit/addiction, an object, a person, a place, an era, and the list goes on. Our human brains get so wrapped up into our comfort zones and patterns that we’d rather obliterate our authentic selves than let go.
This behavior began when we were tiny babies — with our parents, blankets, pacifiers, and comfort foods. As adults, it hasn’t changed — now we fear losing our homes, our iPhones, our computers, love, marriage, and the list goes on.
When faced with the loss of any of these, we assume that it is going to be all over. That we are going to cease to exist. But this is the great lie.
I recently read the most amazing letter from a mother penned to her daughter. Toward the end it reads, “And when you feel small in the great big world, be still. Think of your beautiful roots. They are deep and true and will allow you to stretch far. So go into the world and let your little light shine. And always remember you are loved.”
We will ALL lose things. Life will continue to change. That is one of the only things we can be sure of. Loss and change occur every single day on this planet.
I think the key to surviving is this…
We often forget the root of the root of our beings. But if we can be silent for a moment and dive inside, it is possible to discover that our roots are deep and strong. So deep that we don’t have to compromise and hold on to what is killing us.
My ultimate loss was the death of my mom at the start of this year. I never could have imagined the world without her, but I’m discovering more and more each day that my roots are strong. I’m learning to have faith in life’s process. Sometimes it’s damn scary and overwhelming, but my mom prepared me for this moment. My roots are deep. And so are yours.
We just have to take time to connect with the strength within. And when we can’t find it, ask for help.
FYI, for some of us a part of letting go is asking for help and admitting that you just don’t know. We get so wrapped up in our glorified conceptions of who and what we think we’re “supposed” to be that we keep everything inside.
In the end, letting go means releasing all the bullshit stories we keep telling ourselves – those that keep us making the same mistakes over and over again.
By Jen Engevik – Project Be Bold