Wednesday, February 11, 2009

it is not easy

In my last post I was talking a little bit about wanting to slow one's life down. And I've been thinking that an important part of that process is letting go. I'm learning how to let go, and I think I'll still be learning how to let go when I'm eighty-five! It's a life-long thing. It's like exercise. You don't jog once and then decide you're fit and you never have to jog again. It's a practice.

So how does one practice letting go? And what are we letting go of?

I practice letting go of my need to control things. I practice letting go of my fears and anxieties. To do this, in my mind or out loud, I repeat the phrases "Let it be," and "Let go, let God."

(If you don't like to use the word "God," then don't use it. Replace it with "fate" or "the yet-unknown future" or whatever suits you. I've only recently started using the word "God" to address the Being that I can feel is there. I'm not going to get into a religious/faith debate here, but suffice it to say that I have been atheistic, and I've been agnostic, and I definitely understand both those positions. And while I do have faith now, I'm not a born-again Christian or anything, and the last thing I want to do is push my beliefs on anyone. There. That's all I'm going to say about that, for now.)

"Let it be."

"Let go, let God."

These phrases remind me that whatever is to come, is out of my hands. When we want to slow our lives down, the main opposition actually comes from ourselves - from the way we've behaved all our lives. Our own habits are really hard to break, especially when they don't feel like habits, but like 'just-the-way-it-is'! And one of my main habits, a way-of-behaving-so-far, has been to tell myself that I can control what's to come. But not only is that not true, but it's just going to get me all stressed out!

So when you start feeling tense and crazy, thinking of what's to come, of all the things you've got to get done this week, try one of those phrases. Letting something be is pretty easy, really - you don't have to do a thing! You just let it be what it is, what it has been all along. Let go, and let God, or randomness, take care of tomorrow's business. You can't control it from here, anyway.

We also have to let go of a certain number of items on the To-Do list. If we are serious about slowing down our lives and spending time doing things that are important to us, that means taking time away from other things. So there are things that won't get done, and we need to let go of them. Maybe I won't actually get to volunteer at the different events I want to, and maybe I won't get to socialize with all the people I've made tentative plans with. I won't get to read all the blogs that interest me, or comment meaningfully at each. I won't be able to clean the house every time a part of it gets a little dirty. (You get the idea.)

Each time I feel pent up and anxious thinking of something that won't get done, that's when I practice letting go. I tell myself to take a step back, then to take a deep breath, deep from in my belly. I tell myself to feel the anxiety, and usually, when I let the anxiety just be itself, the tension melts.

And sometimes letting go is as easy as opening a fist. Other times it's really hard. But each time I face that moment where I know I must let go, it's practice. And that moment, that's where you learn, and that's how you slow things down.


In my counsellor's waiting room there is a small, wooden plaque. The last time I was there I wrote down what it says, to share it here. I like it a lot.

Here it is:

it is not easy...

to apologize,
to begin over,
to be unselfish,
to take advice,
to admit error,
to face a sneer,
to be charitable,
to keep trying,
to be considerate,
to avoid mistakes,
to endure success,
to profit by mistakes,
to forgive and forget,
to think and then act,
to keep out of a rut,
to make the best of little,
to subdue an unruly temper,
to shoulder a deserved blame,
to recognize the silver lining,



This Blog's News: I like blogs that have interactive features, so I'm experimenting by using JS-Kit's star-rating system. It's pretty simple: just click on the stars at the bottom of each post, to indicate what you think that blog post rates. 1 star means "not so great, in fact not great at all", and 5 stars means "amazing! changed my life!". Or something like that.

Redesign? I've been wanting to have an RSS feed for a while now, as well as wanting to change up the design of this blog. I think at some point in the near future, perhaps the next month, I'm going to change my template so both of those goals are reached. Woot! But the URL will stay the same, so worry not.

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