Learning to let go should be learned before learning to get. Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax, let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.
— Ray Bradbury
You know when your heart anticipates something a thousand years before your mind and the day your mind finally catches up, the new realization already feels like a third arm, a fourth eye or a friendly shadow you are finally embracing?
Why is the heart so eager to become while the mind so slow to step into the new? Why are we so fond of our familiar mental structures — even when they have turned from friends to enemies — why so attached to comfort zones, even when they stand between us and our creative (r)evolution, why so desperately clinging to a love that once gave us life and now it’s taking it away?
What is Safe? At any moment we are dancing between life and death, one step away from making our lives work and another away from absolute chaos and disaster. Death is unapologetically intertwined with life, sorrow is also at the heart of joy, darkness pays its dues to the light.
No one survives. Not you, not me, not anyone we’ve ever known. And yet, life will go on. Without you or me as we know it, but only with the pieces of us we leave behind, the new worlds we create as we bleed our truth through this one.
Why do we keep holding on (with bloody claws) to what is bringing us down?
Like in all my soul investigation and heart experiments, I take myself as Subject Zero.
So here is my delusion, in 4, equally deceitful parts:
1. Fear — What if I fall? (But what if you fly?) What if I’m making yet another mistake? (Guess you won’t know until you’ve made it?) What if I lose? (But what do you actually “have” to lose? Whatever is truly yours, can never be taken from you — not even death, if anything, death reunites us with the whole. And what is not yours, well — you can’t lose what you don’t own, can you?)
2. Familiarity, comfort, fear, need to control. — I am the formless universe, but I am also this form, this body, this mind, this soul and this temporary ME operates by habit. And when this subject I have come to know and love as ME experiences any interruption to its habits — even if these habits are slowly annihilating it — then the bitch will put up a fight.
Comfort and familiarity are the glue that hold our sense of Self together. But they can also clog our pores and block new light from getting in.
We are quick to judge what we can’t understand to feed our obsessive need for control: tame the wild in us at all costs, fill our uncharted territory with theories about survival, put everything in its “right” place. But what is right? And what is its place? We are our only paradigms.
We are terrified of the unknown, of what dares to exist freely and unapologetically outside our comfort zone. Our mind gets dizzy with the very thought of flying over the void that spreads between what we are and what we must become.
3. Association — If it took me so long to build this business, to meet and love this person, to create this job, opportunity, circumstances, to nurture this friendship, to make this world that has become the death of me… (etc.) then it will take me at least twice as long to do it again. And frankly, I’m exhausted.
But if you keep on dying, how will you ever live again? How do you expect life out of lifelessness? Lack of action leads to lack of purpose. Lack of purpose leads to lack of passion. Lack of passion leads to: FIRST – despair; SECOND – resentment; THIRD – a comatose state of indifference. And this, my crazy friend, is the number one enemy of life and love: indifference, not death.
4. Pride — It’s not fair. The part of me I’ve sacrificed in my mistakes, the oxygen I’ve burned, the ideas I’ve wasted, all the stories I’ve created around who I wanted to be and what I so badly wanted to make, what will happen to them? What will happen to the seeds that fell from my branches? Am I just a shadow of my own desire? What of all the stardust I flung to the wind? How much have I lost…
Pride is another form of selfishness. It’s a limited sense of who YOU are and what YOU have done and what YOU deserve. The real YOU is eternal, ever-evolving, in constant movement, unattached to a specific frame of perception, a circumstance, a project or a person.
To transcend from selfishness to selflessness, for your initiation from Victim to Creator, you must be brave enough to walk through the fire of your own perceived destruction. (Remember, what is truly yours will never leave, no matter how much you may lose.)
Time doesn’t heal — we heal. But time is like a bandaid. It will eventually lift the curtain and dissipate the fog. Time doesn’t tell, it shows. PLEASE LET IT SHOW YOU, AS IT FREES YOU.
Signs it’s time to let go?
This should be simple, really. If something doesn’t give you joy, it’s not your revolution. I don’t care how good it sounds on paper, or how great it feels in potential. I only care about the way it makes you bleed in fact — is it a blood transfusion or a vampire illusion?
But how can you tell between the temporary hardships any relationship (with a person, a business, a mission, a job, a project) should and will have to endure, and the chronic and eventually, fatal illness of fighting invisible giants of your own making?
Although we can handle prolonged stress and sadness, we are equipped for ecstasy. Our defenses may be strong, but we are not invincible. When you are constantly deprived of what will propel your evolution forward — from the most basic life sustenance, such as food, water, sleep — to the greatest but equally vital human needs, like love, rebellion and creativity — you simply run out. When you keep withdrawing from your heart’s account, you will eventually be in red numbers.
We are strong, but we are fragile. We are eternal but mortal. There is a limit to us, just like a part of us is limitless.
Your natural state of being is to overflow with desire, abundance and aliveness. You’re not a flashlight, you’re a lighthouse. You’re not a candle, you’re the fire. Extended dimming will eventually blow you out and make the world a little blinder.
When something/someone repeatedly takes from you without replenishing, it’s time to let go. When someone/something does not contribute to your aliveness, but keeps you slave to their perception, fear, conditioning, circumstances, attitude and whole world paradigm, it’s time to let go. When you’ve exhausted your desire fighting a desire-less reality, when you’ve become the devil you were once against, when you have turned into a lifeless shadow of your own aliveness, it’s time to let go.
Our heart is years light ahead of our mind. This makes it easy for dear mind to keep us chained to the skeleton of what was once a person, a project, a revolution, a desire that used to taste like Us. And we stay and punish ourselves, because at one point it DID give us joy. It DID matter, it DID mean something. We DID hope, we DID fight a good fight, it WAS worth it.
And yet, and yet, and yet…
What’s taken me years to understand is that no matter the outcome of any situation,
YOUR LOVE WAS NOT IN VAIN.
YOUR PAIN WAS NOT WASTED.
YOUR SEEDS WILL BEAR FRUIT.
Maybe just not the kind of fruit you’ve set your Eden for. Thus enters Mr. Free Will.
Every organism in the cosmos (person, animal, plant or even intracellular life) is subject to free will. This means there is a chance for this organism to rebel and say NO to its own development, or to choose another way to develop that isn’t in accordance with yours.
Rebellion is at the center of everything we do and are. We must accept rebellion, we must rise up and join the mutiny against any form of tyranny or control, even when the tyrant lives inside our bones — especially when the prison guards are Us — and we must keep on fighting it with creativity.
And this is what the Art of Letting Go feels like. At the same time as you accept another’s rebellion of saying no to you by being themselves — you must also rebel against the slavery of co-existing with selves, circumstances, projects or ideas that are not aligned with your own.
It looks bloody on the outside, but on the inside, it’s a beautiful exchange of aliveness. In letting go, you are accepting what is. And in accepting what is, you are respecting every organism’s right to rebel in the quest to become themselves — starting with YOU.
You can’t change people, circumstances, situations. You can only align with them. Or not.
THE THING ABOUT FREEDOM: It stops being freedom when it is imposed. You cannot wake someone up. You can’t liberate anyone who hasn’t already freed themselves. All you can do is be. All you can be is free, yourself.
People with a hero complex (like me and probably, like you) can’t quite digest this one. It feels as if — because you are a visionary and all you see rhymes with potential, and all your roads lead to Utopia — if you just made them see, if you just opened their own doors and made them be…
And over time, instead of focusing on your quest to be yourself — which is your only action field, the only reign you actually have any say over — you end up fighting others’ empty fight.
5 Lessons on Letting Go They Should Have Taught You in School.
Because instead of memorizing wars and presidents’ long names and kings’ affairs, we should have learned to memorize ourselves.
1. Letting go is not giving up. Giving up on your own becoming, because of hardships in the way and temporary battles to be fought, is cowardice. Letting go of what no longer is You, is courage. The difference between the two is Joy. Is it giving you joy, despite the pain? Is it minding your heart, despite the bleeding? Joy is like a flower that breaks through the most impossible cement. It’s soft but unstoppable.
Everything in this life is a transaction — from the most sacred, ancient, natural transactions to the most banal ones. You just need to measure, in your own case, if the degree of heart you invest in something (or someone) matches the degree of heart (aka, joy and aliveness) you get back. If it doesn’t, LET IT GO. (Scroll up for Signs You Lost Your Joy.)
2. Letting go is not passive but active and revolutionary. It takes guts and it takes movement. When you stop evolving, you stop moving. When you let go of what is standing in the way of your evolution, you start moving again. Your blood starts flowing, your organs functioning, you come back to life as if you’d never left it — and any kind of resurrection starts a creative revolution.
3. Letting go will set you free, but first it will make you bleed. Just like truth first pisses you off, letting go will make your body rage. We are creatures of habit and this includes our heart. Even when our habits are hurting us, our Territorial Selves will put up a fight when trying to let go of them. Our body remembers what our mind may want to forget.
Follow your heart but only after you set your North. Don’t confuse heart with heart habits. Instead create new habits by taking unprecedented action towards the North you need — that which takes into consideration all of your parts, the truth that pieces you back together not the one that tears you apart.
4. Letting go is the most powerful act of faith, vulnerability and surrender. It takes guts to jump into the unknown and trust that creativity will build you a net. It takes hope and a tough love for your own heart, to save you from yourself. It’s easy to be somebody else’s hero, but it’s the quest of a lifetime to fearlessly become your own.
5. Letting go is the only way to embrace change. I am not a person. Neither are you. We are unique collections of moments, habits, circumstances, events, people we’ve known, loved and unloved, hearts we’ve touched and hearts we’ve been touched by. All I know with certainty about this life is that it goes on. All I know about us is that we are Change.
Our brains and hearts are 73% water, our lungs up to 83%. The rest of us is 60% water. What is this heaviness inside that refuses to flow? What kind of dams we’ve built around our heart that can’t be opened?
Liquid advice from Bruce Lee:
Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing about” — says Pascal.
Let me repeat, no one survives. But some people live. I want to be those people.
And to be them, I need to travel light. And to travel light, I need to develop the ability of standing on the precipice of my own self-created entropy, and instead of falling, fly. Because, the difference between the two, is really up to me.
I want to look the monsters I’ve created in the face, and instead of being disgusted by my own failure to turn frogs into lovers, love my demons like I loved them when I first thought them angels. And then, I want to let them be. I want my chest to be big enough to hold both of my hearts — the delusional one that must die each time and the one that must resurrect from its ashes.
My world, your world, should be vast enough to hold our own Frankensteins. Instead of killing our mistakes and failed tries, we should kill the pride that makes it painful to look them in the eye and break the bars that keep us caged with them. And set each other free.
We should wear our pain and stories of redemption, like prayer flags instead of scarlet letters.
So if you love me, if I love you, if you love you, if I love me, please have the courage, give me courage, please have the trust, give me the trust, please have the gut, give me the gut, to let you, let me go.
Whatever is yours will never leave. The names we give our loves, our tries, our revolutions, are just names. Forces like love, rebellion and creativity are universal. They don’t need specific names or certain people to manifest. All they need is a liquid mind and a broken-open heart. The nameless YOU creating your own world and participating in this love affair with life, the YOU in constant evolution and becoming, will remain.
The degree in which you realize that you have nothing and no one to lose, but instead, you ARE something to gain and someone to create, will determine your fate and outcome of all your creations and rebellions, of all your loves and revolutions, of all that stays with You and all that you will leave behind.
We wanted to make up a kinder language, that loves to show as much as lives to tell. We weren’t naive or careless, we knew the cost of life was life itself. We knew there was no other way but through the fire, but this new fire didn’t burn us to the ground or steal our oxygen, for we had learned, in time, how to be water.