Holding Tight the Laces

Let it Go.

There are a hundred ways to say it. A hundred things we would be better off for letting go of.  Old resentments, misguided worry, a weary worn out grudge, the past, unrealistic expectations, that which we cannot control, a broken heart,  a million what-ifs and of course all the coulda-shoulda-wouldas.

Let it go.

We have all heard it, we have all heard ourselves say it to someone else in compassion or perhaps even exasperation, and maybe we have muttered it under our breath for our own benefit when we have worn ourselves out worrying or troubling or obsessing about something, or someone, and finally, at last know there is nothing else we can do.

Let it go.

A simple little phrase. If only it were that simple.

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It seems to me that this this is one of those lessons we have to learn over and over. And then, perhaps, again.  Turns out, that along with our hearts, our brains are not programmed for change or loss. I learned this from a new perspective recently while reading a terrific article about dealing with change.  It hit home when I read that…

When we run into a roadblock, suddenly information we trusted has broken down. Where does the other road lead? How long will it take? Is it dangerous? What we don’t know tends to scare us, and change creates a lot of things we don’t know. As a result, we tend to act pretty irrationally to try and prevent change, often without realizing it, and make our lives unnecessarily problematic.  {via Lifehacker}

Letting go is saying yes to loss. Choosing to say goodbye to something.  Even the things in our lives that take up unnecessary space, cause pain, or rob us of joy somehow settle in as something familiar and letting  go creates an unexpected emptiness.  Letting go is an active invitation of the unfamiliar, and somehow, we are strange creatures who cling to what is familiar, sometimes just what takes up space, even when it doesn’t always feel good.

As an eighth grader, I had begged my my parents for new roller skates for my 14th birthday. Begged and bargained. And finally, they gave in and agreed that would be my gift that year. I got to pick them out – white leather boot, blue wheels and stopper, and even a bright blue pom-pom on the toe.  While the surprise element was zero, the anticipation factor was high; I loved knowing that by a certain date, those skates would be mine, all mine.  My birthday finally rolled around and the skates were safely in my possession; I am sure I skated around the block, imagining my first chance to loop the rink with my girlfriends and with an eye on that cute boy from across town. That night, some thirty plus years ago, as I fell asleep, proud owner of the new skates, I held the laces of those new skates tightly, my hand hanging over the edge of my bed, unable to let go. I wanted to be sure that when I woke up, those skates would still be there. I didn’t trust that what I had wanted so badly, and had finally received, would not in fact somehow slip away.

The skates were something I could easily – and legitimately grasp, hold on to, and make sure they did not roll away from me.

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But what about when it’s more complicated than roller skates? When it is something that stirs you?  What if it is something, that despite the fact that the earth is not likely to tip on a slant and cause things to roll away, is something you want to hold close?

We know that if we can let something go, and if it remains with us, or returns, that we should be able to trust that it is meant to be part of us, that there is something truly organic at play.  When we successfully stuff a square into a circle, it may seem for the moment to feel good that we conquered, that we won, that we got what we wanted. But in the long run, it seems safe to say, that time will only reveal to us that it never really fit in the first place.

What’s hard is not knowing, and yet allowing ourselves to truly step back and let the universe do it’s work.  Let the surface slant and see what rolls.  What I am still struggling with, I will be honest, is finding that balance. The balance between gently holding that which we care about, and still allowing time and space to work its magic.  Knowing when it’s time to put my hands up in acquiescence; understanding that I have done all that I should, or could. Even if  just temporarily. Understanding the balance between coincidence and intent, the fine line between patient and passive,  the delicate dance of safe and vulnerable.

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I have been pondering this notion for days, trying to work out a solution to a dilemma and a way of being during an ambiguous time.  I am wrestling with big change that requires grieving something familiar that cannot continue.  We came close to losing my 92 year old father last week and my brother and I both felt compelled to let him go, and to let him know he was free to pass from one world to the next if he is tired.  An important relationship requires that I let go for awhile to allow it’s potential to emerge on it’s own. In the time of my pondering, and beating my chest over all this, I’ve gotten a text from a friend who unknowingly suggested I give a listen to a song by Frou Frou called Let Go.   Mimi’s post, graciously extending her angel wings over me, talked about letting go and the persistence of hope, and a very wise person I know [ok, my sister!]  re-framed my question asking me if I can let it be, instead of feeling that I have to let it go.  This letting go, this saying yes to loss, at any level; is excruciating in some moments. But sometimes, to let go is not so simple, but simply, the only way.  And when we surrender ourselves to what is to be, we somehow allow for just that. What is to be.

So, where is the line? The line between grasping too tightly and letting go?  Between letting go and letting it be?  What about when letting go feels like giving up?  Because somehow, I still feel like that 14yr old who wants to hold tight to the laces of my skates as I fall asleep.

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34 thoughts on “Holding Tight the Laces

    • Rian…thank you, what a lovely comment. I love that you used the word layered – that just fits. It’s definitely an ongoing pursuit, to find that line, and I send back the love for your quest.

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  1. Really nice post.
    There are a couple of issues from my past that I have difficulty letting go of. There was a rejection that I’m still ruminating over and hurting from. In the intervening time I’ve learned that what happened *was* for the best, that holding on to the negative emotions only serve to cause me hurt, that I can’t go back in time to change how events unfolded. Yet I still hover over the memories.

    It makes me think that “letting go” is not a passive thing. It is a very bold, decisive action that we have to actively make. And it isn’t the same as “forgetting” or “giving up”.

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  2. An inspiring post Bonnie! One thought that ran through my mind as I was reading was of Letting go of Control. There are some things you cant control in life no matter how much you want to. On that, we really have to Let it Be as you mentioned. A lot of us struggle with that I think cos we have this fear of uncertainty-we want to shape our fates and those of our loved ones. We have to accept that we cant always do that and have faith that things will work out somehow. Thank you for the thought provoking post 🙂

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    • Prithi, thank you very much for such a thoughtful comment and reply. It’s so true, there are so many things we can’t control in life, just ourselves and actions, reactions, behaviors, really. Letting it Be is such a challenge also – such a close cousin to Letting it Go. I am so glad this gave you something to ponder – it’s truly something so universal that we all struggle with!

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  3. I especially love this “Knowing when it’s time to put my hands up in acquiescence; understanding that I have done all that I should, or could. Even if just temporarily. Understanding the balance between coincidence and intent, the fine line between patient and passive, the delicate dance of safe and vulnerable.” I think we often are struggling on that tightrope, trying to balance letting go and holding on. I tend to hold on for dear life and then for some reason all of a sudden let go, going with the universal flow of life, knowing that ultimately if meant to be, it will be so. I hope you’re well, Bonnie. I found your site a bit back during one of Rian’s “Freshly Press Yourself” I still remember the smiling dragonfly 🙂

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    • Hi! Thanks so much for your comment and yes, the tightrope is the perfect analogy – such a fine line that requires so much balance on our part! I tend to do the same thing..hold on, hold on, hold on…and then let go. It seems to me we are processing all the while holding on and then when it’s time…it’s time. Thanks for coming back by and remembering my dragonfly! 🙂 Cheers!

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    • Hi Jane…thank you so much! It is so hard, I fight myself almost daily, so yes, we just have to keep working at it. Thanks for stopping by to visit this corner of blog-land! Cheers! Bonnie

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  4. this post goes to the exact core of what it is i am trying to deal with – in so many aspects of my life. i wish it could be one thing or even two – but it is so many things at one time. trying to find a balance – i am just so overwhelmed all the time.

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    • Diana, Thank you! This letting go is such an active process for me, just about daily, these days 🙂 I am so glad that line holds some resonance for you – that means we are in this together! xo

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  5. Sending you such love, my friend. The other commenters here are so much wiser and more articulate than me, so I’ll just second everything that’s been said, and add that whatever comes, whenever you “let it be”, you won’t be doing it alone. We’re all here! xo.

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  6. This is a hard one, Bonnie. It’s easy to say ‘let go’, but actually living it is another thing altogether. I’m so sorry to hear about your dad and the best I can do is send you strength and a big virtual *hug*.
    When I think of letting go, I recall an interview I saw with an actor who was involved in a plane crash. The plane went down in water and he was in his seat upside down, disoriented and still strapped into his seat belt. He said he struggled (for what seemed like) a very long time. He was under water and couldn’t undo his seat belt. After a while the panic was too much for him and he heard a voice inside his head say ‘surrender, just let go’. His entire body relaxed and he sat for a moment letting go and surrendering to his fate. He moved his hand onto his seat belt and it clicked open.
    When I’m struggling against the things life throws at me I often think of this story. Fighting against losing something makes it very difficult to think clearly and to deal with our emotions and wounded heart. Love you…

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  7. I wish I could tell you where that line is my dear, but I’m afraid the line is in different places for different situations for different people. Isn’t that one of the hardest and most beautiful things in life. That although we all experience things like loss and letting go, we all do it in our own time and in our own way. When the skates become to heavy for your fingers to hold onto anymore, you’ll let go. When you’re ready. So sorry to hear that your Dad isn’t doing well, but girl, he sure had fun at the party and that’s the way to live each and every day that we’re here. ((()))

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    • Thanks Pam…and yes, the line is always in a different place..it’s like that commercial on tv for CarMax {I think} where the ‘start here’ line keeps moving just a little bit more. It is one of the paradoxically difficult and beautiful things in life…if we keep an eye on that moving target, then I suppose we are doing our work and continuing to grow. Thank you for the thoughts on my dad…and yes, that’s the way to live: playing the harmonica and mixing a martini for a pretty lady…at age 92! Hugs! B

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  8. I agree with Mimi, Bonnie, you have articulated the “betwixt and between” nature of the problem beautifully.

    A number of years ago when I was struggling during a time of change, i read a “wonderful* book called “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes,” by (ironically enough), a man named William Bridges. :-). He said something that I have never forgotten, and that was that it is incredibly difficult, but also incredibly important, to “sit in” that zone of discomfort that accompanies big change, rather than rushing through it to something different (which can sometimes be even worse if you’re just rushing to escape the pain of the “indeterminate.”). I have thought of this often in the years since, when I’ve summoned the courage to move from a situation that just isn’t working for me (even though it may be oh so comfortable and familiar), and have reminded myself that the “in-between” can be a very enlightening place to be.

    So today, I wish for you the strength to embrace the discomfort and the uncertainty, excruciating as I know it can be, and believe in the fact that you will eventually figure out what is best held tight, and what is best let go. You can do it…. Xox, l

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    • Wow Lori…thank you. It is for sure a betwixt and between ‘moment’ in time…I really like how you put that, it really resonates.

      I will have to see if I can find that book, it sounds full of insight and grace, and I noted and loved the irony of the author’s name. As much as I want to jump out of my skin on some days, I know that there is wisdom in sitting in the mess of it all, that there are lessons to be learned in that fuzzy place. It dawned on me that it is almost a reverse work out…we lift weights over and over to get stronger muscles. But in a period of letting go, it’s almost as if doing nothing (or at least what ‘feels’ like nothing – for truly it’s an active pursuit, this letting go) is what builds the strength. Have I ever mentioned that irony is rarely lost on me? 😉 I take your wish for strength and hold it close, it is the wonderful friends that surround this space and my life that truly shed light along the way and remind me that we are all on the same path, just perhaps at different intersections. xoxo

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  9. Your eloquence in the face of such complex conundrums is astounding! You aren’t really asking about whether to let go, but ‘how’ one let’s go. And I don’t think there’s a definitive way sweetheart. There was a song when I was young(er) – ‘hold on loosely/don’t let go/if you cling too tightly/you’re gonna lose control’. How about just loosening the grip which we tend to tighten when we’re afraid of what’s next? You are holding loosely, so that you can feel the string in your hand resting gently – and slowly, as next steps become a little clearer, as the path begins to look increasingly lovely, you will find yourself less aware of what you are holding onto.
    I think releasing something is a process – you can’t just discard it all at once (especially big-ticket issues that have ‘ambivalence’ written on them in bold letters). A little less pressure on that which you’re grasping, a moment at a time. And I feel so silly writing this to you, because you know all of this – and are doing all of this with far more grace and self-awareness than you realize. The tighter you hold, the more likely you will choke the life out of what is worth holding onto and will only weigh down that which you are slowly releasing. Love you Bon…xoxo

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    • Beautiful, Bon. It is a lesson we must llearn over & over. Agonizing each time. I’m here to share your agony, if you want. Love you

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      • Tiff..thank you, so much! Always so great when I know you have stopped by here. I know you are in my corner, always. I know you are there – right there – and love you for that that. The agony is no fun, and would love to share it with you, not that I want you to have any, though. love you too. xo

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    • Mims…exactly, how, not whether and I know there are no simple shortcuts, but I just had to ruminate and percolate on this process and as I have, it feels more and more natural. Amazing to me how in the choosing to ‘let it….go/be” allows for things to just be. It is a process, at once exhausting and revealing in one fell swoop, as I know you know. I am smiling at the notion of my big ticket items stamped with “ambivalence” in bold letters…I liken this to the imagining and audience wearing only underwear to calm the jitters. Thank you for your words of acknowledgement, reminding me of perspective. I love the last sentence of your comment, so so wise, so so true. love you too xoxo

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