Geez, this pandemic thing is one loooooong-assed situation. I don’t need to tell you; you know. I’m just saying it with my outside voice (in writing) because that has really become the predominant feeling for most of us, it seems. Folks are just WRUNG OUT and OVER IT. Which are completely valid feelings, of course…yet the COVID pandemic carries on. It’s changed our lives in endless ways. People have lost loved ones. Businesses have closed. We have added yet another polarizing topic to our human repertoire (vaccinated or not vaccinated?). Daycare is open; now it’s not. We’re going back to the office; now we’re not. Economies are struggling. The list goes on.
Recently, I was spot reading through my 2021 journal and started with Jan 1. (I know. What a genius place to start!) Some of you who have read my posts for a long time may recall that I am a fan of choosing a word, or group of words, that I focus on to set the tone for my year. Sometimes they stay around for many years. This particular year, my word was a phrase: LETTING GO. Well isn’t THAT an interesting phrase to contemplate, given the first paragraph about the pandemic-that-just-won’t-end.
I find it wryly amusing when I choose a word, and then look back at it and realize that I’ve gotten what I asked for. Lots of opportunities to practice letting go. Letting go of wanting things to be a way that they’re not (like an ending to the pandemic). Letting go of having my “kids” (quotes because all four are adults) around a lot, knocking around the house and lighting up my life in the process. Letting go of how my body and skin used to be, before menopause changed everything, seemingly overnight. Letting go of wanting people to act the way I want them to act (for instance, not polarizing EVERYthing). Letting go of things happening on the schedule that pleases me, or in the way that I want them to. Letting go, moment by moment.
It turns out that most of us have a pretty specific idea of how we like things to be. Which is pretty normal; it’s human to have preferences. We’re actually neurologically programmed that way. It’s not our preferences that get in our way, it’s our attachment to the preferences. “If it’s not the way I want it, then I refuse to be happy!” Hmmm. Happiness seems like an odd thing to refuse. The Buddhist practice of non-attachment—which has interested me for a long time—is pretty much a practice of letting go. I’ve been practicing non-attachment for many years and I will be practicing for all of my remaining days, I suspect. It ain’t easy.
However, in the moments and time periods where I can soften into that idea of accepting what I cannot change? LIBERATION! Truly. When someone says, “No, Laurie, we’re no longer making Darth Chocolate ice cream, so you can’t order it, today or ever,” I have a choice. I can ruin my own day by lamenting that my life experience doesn’t bend to my every desire. OR, I can say, “okay.” And choose a different flavor. It’s actually liberating to bypass the drama and just choose to feel okay with life, as it’s unfolding right now. Especially if we can’t change it.
So, I’m letting go of “the way things used to be” before the pandemic. I’m letting go of my personal preference for our global situation to be different than it is. Because really, when I don’t let go, I’m just annoying my own self. That said, I’m also letting go of the idea that I can stay in that letting-go space indefinitely! Our Messy Personhood (from my book Wild World, Joyful Heart) makes it hard to hold that space. But, for me, it sure is worth the effort.
What does letting go mean to you? Have you ever practiced it, as a tool for personal growth, less annoyance and/or liberation? I’ve love to hear about it, below in the comments. Cuz we’re all in this together!
Create Vibrant Health: BodyMindSpirit®
With love and liberation,