Sunday, February 11, 2018

Letting Go - An Act of Love

The phrase ‘letting go’ perhaps tends to be used rather casually. But there surely is a difference between letting go an unkind remark someone might have said to us, between urging ourselves to ‘let it go’, and the letting go of something so deep that it feels like death. This type of letting go is never easy and requires enormous courage. This type of letting go takes us on a journey that is highly personal, and only the person involved can do this in her or his own time. It is a lone process: no one can do it for us.
It is the act of letting go of a loved one. 
As Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in one of his poems: "We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go." Letting go of a loved one is a recognition that we never really owned anyone or anything. It is a conscious act of great love and faith. For no one wants to part from a beloved one. 

The act of letting go itself seems to be an ongoing state of being; like the tides, one's emotions tend to ebb and flow, and these processes never seem to go quite in a straight line. But slowly, slowly, a little drop becomes the ocean and things find the level which is intended for them.

Often we have dreams of what we want in life, including who we want to be with, and how we want things to be. But sometimes life itself says 'no': we realize with terrible finality that our dreams are not to be, and our most sought-after aspirations are doomed to remain unrealized. Then what?
The author Clarissa Pinkola Estes describes such a situation as: "leaving what cannot be." But what is this "leaving?" How do we stop reading the same chapter again and again? How do we stop the same looped recording playing over and over in our thoughts?

This more profound act of letting go is a deep acceptance, a surrender to what is, a realization of how things truly are, and a leaving behind of any desire for how we would like or prefer things to be. Saying ‘yes’ to this type of letting go irrevocably changes and transforms us. It is not a matter of hardening our hearts, of closing them so that no pain can enter. For if we close our hearts in this way, and with this intent, then not only do we not let pain in: we allow pain that is there to become trapped and to find no escape. The pain stays within us.
Instead, if only we open our hearts completely, if we open our hearts as wide as the summer skies, then not only all our joys and loves are embraced, but also all our pain and suffering and emotional turmoil. This is the marvelous paradox: in embracing our pain we also truly ‘let it go’. Inner freedom comes from this.

And so letting go is a deep acceptance, a surrender to what is. Every living soul on this earth, whether in physical or in spiritual despair or distress, is walking this road at some stage in her or his life. And it is up to each and every one of us to break through that hidden isolation and take that one step nearer to the real freedom which comes with truly ‘letting go’

Painting by Isil Gönen

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