The Secret to happiness is letting go.-The Buddha
The Art of Letting Go; or, Going, Going, Gone.
(dedicated to my friend Keri)
My life seems to be about loss, or rather, letting go.
When I think back on my life, this process of letting go of things began a very long time ago.
The first big thing that I let go of was my father. I was two when my mother and I left him. That was kind of a big thing to let go of.
In my youth, I was always in state of letting go of my environment. I have moved 36 times in my life. All in the Los Angeles area. Each time I moved I had to let go of structural things like neighborhoods and schools. Things that ground you. Of course, moving so often also meant I had to give up friends.
It’s tricky to stay in contact with people when you are too young to drive or own a phone.
So I let them go.
There were decades where it seems like I didn’t really give up much in regards to physical or material items, but, in hind sight I see I gave up a lot experientially.
I gave up on my dreams. I settled. I coasted by. I made excuses.
During this time I felt relatively safe, and there was a certain ease to my life. One day was much like the next. There was a comfort in that.
Now, it would seem like those decades of complacency are being made up for in spades.
I have been propelled into “letting go” hyper drive.
We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.-Joseph Campbell
First, there was the letting go of a boyfriend who had changed his mind about living with me, marrying me, and loving me. I felt like I didn’t have much choice in the matter. My efforts in his decisions were in the letting go and being all right with it.
Next, was the passing of my mother. She was my best friend, my family, my world. I had no choice in that matter either, but she was ready to go, so I had to be all right with that for her.
I had to let her go.
Then I gave up smoking. A habit I engaged in consistently since the age of about 15. Letting go of that was completely my decision and one of the easiest things I have ever let go of.
It was around this time that I also let go of friends who weren’t beneficial to me anymore. There was a period of re-evaluation, and I found that there was no need to keep people in my life who were not growing, loving or supportive.
It felt really good letting go of them.
I then gave away 99% of everything that my mother had amassed throughout her lifetime, and 90% of everything I owned. I was now living alone, in a small, modest home that I inherited with only a few pieces of furniture, a greatly reduced amount of functional odds and ends, and my clothing.
I let it all go.
Then I had to let go of the man I loved. Before my mother passed away she had mentioned on several occasions that she wanted me to meet someone she knew and was sure that I would like. I met him after her death and we became friends and lovers, or so I thought.
I was his friend and lover, but he was not really mine. I was more of like a pet project or experiment for him. Someone to kill time with until something better came along.
I let him go.
Very recently, a series of events have taken place that have speeded up the process I’ve been working on in creating an exit strategy from the city I live in and the job I have struggled through, uh hum, I mean managed through, for the last 14 years.
It looked as if I was going to have to quit my job…immediately.
First, I had to put my house up for sale. It hasn’t been listed yet, but already dozens of people have come by to meet with the real estate agent and have a walk through. I can’t explain how surreal it is to have strangers roaming through your house.
I’m not home when prospective buyers go through my house, but I have had to drive around the block a few times to see if it was safe to go back home and witnessed the swarms of people going in and out.
I’ve detached from the experience.
I’ve let it go.
Today, I am saying goodbye to my friend and only colleague worth mentioning. Keri is my office manager, and has basically run the entire company I work for by herself, with some assistance from me. It’s been just the two of us doing the vast majority of the work for some time. Work that used to be done by 6 people.
There are other employees, but as they are all members of owner’s family, they don’t count as “employees”, or even as “workers”.
Everyone but Keri and I exist in an atmosphere of entitlement and is consumed by the drama and chaos of their personal lives.
Keri and I have served as the under-appreciated, over-looked, over-worked, sounding boards for some very hostile and unhealthy people.
There is no doubt that it is time for us to leave this place, it’s just that Keri made the move first.
Today I am letting go of the one person who cares anything about me here. The only one who sees me, hears me, helps me or possesses any compassion for me.
She and I weren’t always buddies. When I first started working here we got on really well, but then the years went by and we struggled with tumultuous energy between us. Luckily, we were able to work past that and eventually be kind and supportive to each another.
Keri was the person who hugged me when I longed for my mother after she passed away. She would patiently listen to my confused thoughts about my last lover with compassion.
When things got ugly in the office she would raise her arms in the air and sing loudly, “Let it go, let it go!”. I think she was paraphrasing a real song, but those were the only words she knew.
Those words were enough. Let it go, and we did.
So, today I am letting her go just as I have a long string of other important or meaningful things in my life.
I have let it all go.
This is a powerful education that I am being provided with.
In theory I know that all things are transient, impermanent, but life as put into practice that concept for me.
I am letting my job go. I am letting my home go.
I can do without the objects and possessions.
I can do without the ex-boyfriends and lovers.
I can do without the old habits and addictions.
But some things are harder to let go of than others.
The people we love is one of those things. And, even though we must come to terms with letting go of them too, as we will have to do with everything else in our lives, it doesn’t mean it will be easy, we will not hurt or we will not desire to hold on.
Keri, you, like my mother, are things I would not choose to let go of, but I have to. As we part, know that you will be missed.
I thank you for all you have given and shared with me. Your loving ways will never be forgotten.
Thank you with all my heart.
Travel light my friend.