Wednesday 8 August 2018

Even the Good Things: A Lesson in Letting Go

There are moments when everything stops.

I felt it yesterday after a week or more filled with activity and people and work and possibilities and doubts and anxieties and joys and new friends and old friends and smiles and conversations and sharing and a movie that touched me deeply.

After all of that there came a pause. Not an ending but a natural hiatus, like the moment between breathing in and breathing out that we fail to notice most of the time because we are too busy doing or saying or thinking about other things.

And I didn’t know what to do with it. The gap. The space. I told Fran I felt flat. And she said:

Embrace the flatness

That was it. Three words. She knew I didn’t need a lecture or a diagram or a two hour conversation. And she was right. And what came to me in that moment of being reminded (re-mind-ed) was something we have been working with over the years we have been friends.


It can be challenging to handle powerful emotions, especially when they seem to come out of nowhere. Rather than allowing our emotions free rein, or trying to deny them, we find it helps to accept what we feel, take whatever meaning we can from the experience, and then release our attachment to it so we can move on.

High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder

And so that’s what I did. (In this context, “Embrace” can stand for the first three parts: Feel, Claim, Love.) I felt what I had labelled as “flatness.” And found that it was not empty or still at all. At its “flat” surface emotions rose and fell back, shifting in and out of existence even as I became aware of them. It was a dynamic emotional silence like the kind of acoustic silence that is alive with ambient sound. I smiled.

I claimed it as mine. No one else was responsible or to blame. No one else in the history of the universe past, present or future had known, or knew, or would know this moment as I had the capacity to know it. This was mine. This was me.

And I loved it. Or rather I was aware of a rush of love that began with me and expanded out to all my friends, family, all the people in my life, all the events and connections between them and me and within them and between us all. A moment of acceptance. The kind that makes you sigh out loud.

And letting go? I recalled a poem I’d read aloud to Fran a few days before. It wasn’t new to us but some things are worth revisiting.

She Let Go, by Safire Rose

Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.

And I let go. I let go of my expectations of what flatness ought to be. I let go of any judgment about what I was feeling or not feeling or doing or not doing. I let go of my attachment to even this moment of bliss. And I smiled again, hearing a friend’s words clearly in my mind:

Vikki: Even the good things I’ve got to let go?

Martin: Not the things, but the feels, yes. How else can the next feelings arrive if you’re holding on too tightly to the old ones? You don’t have to let go of them immediately, just don’t hold on too long. It’s mostly the bad things we hold on to too long.


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