If there is one thing the past 2 years have taught me, it is these 2 words – “let go.” The number one lesson, the hardest realization, the deepest truth and the simplest way of being, all of that summarized in one statement – “let it go.” I am sure each one of you who is reading this has come across this statement / advice / instruction in some shape of form over the past year too – whether from your parent, partner, boss or friend be it for your mental, physical or spiritual well-being or just simply to get on with life and not be stuck in the mindless vicious circles and complicated webs we often find ourselves woven into.
We have been brought up, groomed and conditioned to hold on to things, and by god, hold onto them with dear life – whether they are tangible things and thereby become hoarders, or holding onto people just because you are either linked to them by blood, region, religion, or some other criteria or worse, holding onto feelings, morals, ideals, philosophies, no matter how dated, insensitive, restricting and damaging they could be over time. Just like things run out of space in our matchbox houses and become a burden, if not used in time or given away, or how some toxic people can become an extra limb on our bodies if not done away with at the appropriate time and decay our soul, emotions, thoughts, feelings too have a colossal impact on our health and life, if not dealt with as they should be. Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release. Unfortunately, we are ingrained from a very early age to be strong, to not show our emotions, to be a closed box and not an open book and never to let our vulnerabilities show – so all we do is stick to our training, go with the flow, take the blows to our gut and power on, with a smile on our faces.
It is at this point that quite hypocritically, the world shows up at your doorstep and asks you to suddenly open up, vent out, spit it out, share openly and leave no pages unturned, as if we as human beings are by default programmed to switch modes and from being ridiculously protective about our inner functioning to painting murals about it in public. It doesn’t end there – once you do muster the strength to outwardly project your inner demons they are subjected to the ‘one size fits all’, approach of classification and processing, with over-the-counter prescribed suggestions of taking it easy, not over-thinking, focussing on inner peace and happiness and not outward stimulation, comparison and gratification and more thrown at you like quick fixes.
Put on too much weight – let go of some of the extra kilos/pounds; lost too much weight – let go of your diets and healthy routines
Feeling sad/hurt/depressed – let go of all that weighs you down, wears you out; feeling ecstatic/overjoyed – let go of all this cheer, at least publicly or it is sure to be envied upon and taken away
Feeling too overwhelmed with people around you – let go of some of the people who don’t rub you the right way, let go the toxicity; feeling isolated and lonely – let go of the desire to have people around you, start enjoying your own company
Go out of your way to do a good deed for someone – let go of the pride and satisfaction, get on with life; when in need of someone to reciprocate in a time of need – let go of any form of expectations
Lose it, forget it, forgive them, don’t expect, move on, get over it, soldier on, sleep on it, it’s alright, life goes on – just versions of the same thing really – Let Go!
While the cynicism about letting go persisted all through a major part of these 2 years and the hard-wired rules, ideals, principles came in the way of accepting the simple, basic and core mantra of letting go, in various forms, multiple run-ins with situations, people and tangible objects lately put most of it in context and literally made – ‘letting go’, a way of life. Outcomes of some much sought-after events in life did not turn out in the slightest ways as they should have or how I needed/wanted them to. People in the form of immediate and extended family, friends, colleagues, etc brought in some rude realizations of how one could possibly change with time. Precious tangible objects that I preserved for the longest times, refused to work when I finally relented and wished to use them, or were found lost, broken or given away before I could even lay my hands on them. Learnt this the hard way, but contrary to popular belief that letting go is an act of cowardice or an easy way out, instead, sometimes letting things go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on!
The irony of it all is that – while you would be writhing in pain, tossing and turning in your bed all night, popping pills by the dozen, bawling your eyes out and draining yourself to the brink, the one you’d be expecting from could well be living his/her dream, dancing away in glory or sleeping like a baby, nonchalantly cruising through life blissfully unaware of your troubles or complaints. Keeping the pain, the burden and baggage only weighs down the person carrying it, but not the onlooker, so isn’t it better to let go the same and move on to the next step in life, to bigger, better, brighter things!
Ever observed a little baby clasp someone else’s finger? The grip is freakishly strong and with a resolute intent of not letting go. Guess we just come with the default programming of being attached, holding on not losing control of anything we touch, or hold dear. It almost feels like a defeat to let go of something or to leave something unfinished or not last the full course – well at least that’s what it felt like to me for the entirety of my life until very recently when I finally started to accept my own self. Not until I started relenting that maybe, just maybe I cannot control everything, everyone or have reciprocations in the exact same manner or proportion, no matter how pure my intent or actions. Herman Hesse wrote – ‘some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes, it is letting go!’ I couldn’t have said it better myself, there’s an indescribable power, in letting go - of resentment, anger, unfulfilled expectations, feeling cheated, used, abused, taken for a ride, taken for granted and so much more, and thereby getting rid of the eye of the storm from within you and losing it into oblivion.
This is no intellectual, deep-thinking conclusion, but if observed closely, something that’s all around us. Look around, trees teach you the same thing when the seasons change – be letting go off all their leaves, making way and welcoming new ones. Even films have taught us this time after time – whether the global sensation song from Frozen – ‘Let it Go’, which of course drove parents crazy worldwide, but very strongly put forth the sentiment of not getting stuck in the past but rather breaking all shackles and going ahead, all guns ablaze. Closer home, Zindagi Naa Milegi Dobaara said the same too, with one of the lead characters, fresh out of a life altering scuba dive coming to terms with the most basic and fundamental thing to do to live life in the best possible manner – ‘Just breathe’, as opposed to how he used to work in his day job, like a clockwork mouse on a pinwheel, running to save his life and worse – thinking that’s the correct way to be.
In the words of Deepak Chopra – ‘in the process of letting go, you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.’ At some point in life, whether by choice or by the cards you’re dealt with, you have to let go and move on. In the moment, it might seem like the hardest thing to do, but you have to muster all the strength you can and let go. Some people and things just aren’t meant for you, no matter how much you wish they were. Some jobs and situations just won’t work out, no matter how much you hoped they would – but it is okay for things to not work out. Start heading in a new direction because it’ll lead you closer to your true path.
As they say, when the heart truly understands, it lets go of everything, after all! It is when we do eventually let go and realise that real change happens when we decide to control what we do have power over than trying to control what we don’t have any power over whatsoever. Unless we let go and forgive – ourselves, people and situations and get some closure, we can never move forward, so it only makes sense to be a little more kind to ourselves, mindful of our situations and empathetic to people around us, even if not for them, but for our own good and to protect and cherish the ones we love who stand by us through this maze of life!