Holding On, Letting Go

I will be having a series of guest bloggers in the next few months who will be offering different takes on the idea of holding on and letting go. I chose this theme because I realize we are in an almost constant flow of holding on to things and people in our lives and then heeding the call to let go. Jobs. Children. Homes. Marriages. Dreams. Careers. Spouses. Health. I’m sure you can add to this list with some ideas of your own.

Several years ago when I started my expressive arts consulting business, The Possibility Project, I designed and offered a program for women in transition. Thinking that people with very specific issues would benefit from the program, I focused on the places familiar to most people: divorce, death of a spouse, empty nest, and changing careers. The group met for several weeks and we did a series of expressive arts activities using collage, journaling, and poetry to work through various issues and blocks the women were experiencing.

And the more I experience life, the more I see people constantly engaged in the challenges of holding on and letting go. During a dark time in my own life, I used to see myself as clinging to a branch that was hanging over a rushing river. My hands gripped the branch, my feet were floating out in front of me and it took all of my strength to hold on. When I finally let go, I floated in the sparkling cool river, buoyed along by the current. I relaxed and let go into the flow.

And now whenever I am faced with challenges that ask me to let go, I close my eyes and see myself clinging desperately to that branch and then relaxing in the water. I realize that so much of the stress comes from wanting to control the outcome instead of trusting the wisdom inside, the wisdom of life’s current. I need to keep this in mind as my son talks about moving to Thailand and buying a one-way ticket. Much as I want to hold him here, I also realize he needs to follow his own current.

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Stafford’s poem “You Reading This, Be Ready” has some inspiring words for us to consider as we face transitions and are called to hold on or let go. I hope they provide some comfort as you face your won challenges.

“When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life—

What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?”

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