As often happens in life, when you have something on your mind the world seems to abound with references to that very subject. Have you noticed that when you’re thinking of making a purchase, buying a car for instance, suddenly you see only that variety of vehicle? Or when you’re planning a trip to a distant place suddenly the newspapers are full of references to it?
I had that experience as I was considering the topic for this article. The subject of “Letting Go” was turning up everywhere. A radio interview on CBC, an article in a Vancouver paper and then a conversation with a friend were all on the subject of “Letting Go and Moving On”. Likewise, I’m observing it all around me with changes in other people’s lives. Friends, downsizing from the family home to a smaller space are not only letting go of possessions but also of a lifestyle. Some who’ve lost a loved one or whose relationships are somehow changing have to redefine themselves and give up what was familiar. As our boomer and zoomer populations age, we often have to let go of physical strengths that we once took for granted.
While the process of letting go seems particularly “in your face” as we age, I began to see that it’s one of life’s sure things, from early childhood to the end of life. Life is about letting go. We let go of total dependence on parents for survival. Then we let go of early childhood beliefs in Santa and the Easter Bunny and so it goes. From giving up our favourite teddy bear (which some of us never do) to letting go of our driver’s licence when we turn 80, it’s one of life’s greatest challenges. What do we let go of and what do we hold on to in order to move on?
We’ve all known people who seem to have difficulty letting go and moving on. Whether it’s positions, possessions or people, they hang on to what was. It’s hard for them to find joy and gratitude in their new situation. We’ve also known many who seem to gracefully move through life’s ups and downs accepting the inevitability of change.
What’s different about the two responses? Certainly it wouldn’t appear to be the outside event. We know our experience is not dictated by what happens but by what we make of what happens—that is, how we respond to it. In other words, what we think about the event.
Once again we come to the idea of choice. At every juncture in the road, we can choose. If only we could catch a glimpse of the truly amazing power within us, our individual capacity for resilience and well-being, we could then embrace this continuous process of letting go. We could see the possibilities open to us as we move on.
Move on we must. How we experience it is entirely up to us.
“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” — Henry Ellis