The only sounds I hear right now are the ringing of tinnitus, and the hiss of the forced-air furnace. The sky is dark because it’s early morning. Two small lamps and the glow of the laptop illuminate the music room. As I take a sip of hot coffee, all I can think is that it’s good to be alive.
This pleasant condition is in stark contrast to the crescendo of events that took place last year and last month. By the last few days of 2017, the big stuff of the year had been resolved. I had one minor stressor left on Boxing Day, an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. When the hygienist laughed easily at my answers to her questions, I knew life was finally falling back into place again.
Some days you have to hold on for dear life. Some days you feel that you can cast your fate into the winds. Letting go is a skill that we can acquire through careful practice. Serenity is knowing what to hold onto and what to let go of. Holding onto too much makes us worrywarts, letting go of too much makes us irresponsible. The balance between hanging on and letting go is fluid from day to day.
The holding on urges seem to be built into our characters because humans very easily become attached to objects, people, and abstract concepts. As far as I know, we are the only species that kills one another over ideas we cling onto in our minds. When someone finally realizes this self-destructiveness within oneself, it becomes much easier to let go of artificial constructs. One of the biggest steps we make is when we let go of our expectations of ideologies and other people.
Narcissists do not understand just how futile their vanity really is. The great majority of people spend a lot of life-energy worrying about what other people think about them. It’s a happy day when you realize that more than 99.9-percent of the population on Earth doesn’t know you, and don’t give a hang about any aspect of your life. Isn’t this a very liberating realization?
If you think our consumerist social norms are making you more acquisitive, attend an estate auction of a loved one. At first glance, this advice seems counterintuitive. However, if you pay close attention to your reactions and observations, you’ll understand that going to the auction is an encounter with the beast.
Helping organize and then watching people during my father’s estate sale was a major wake-up call. Most of the things dad had acquired and worried over went for pennies on the dollar. Few if anyone cared about what the items meant to dad or the family. They were there to buy stuff, ideally at bargain basement prices. What was really sobering is that some of the stuff dad liked, did not sell nor did anyone even want to take home for free. That went to the recyclers and the dump.
Perhaps we are reluctant to let go because we are afraid of freedom. We are told that liberty comes about through self-awareness. Too often, we forget that liberty also comes from letting go of the things and the unfriendly people that weigh us down. The hard part is letting go of what enhanced your life a few years ago but are now out-of-date and just take up space in your mind. Common sense tells us that we must clear out the old in order to make room for the new.
Like it or not, every day brings in the new.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes David Bowie. “Everything I read about hitting a midlife crisis was true. I had such a struggle letting go of youthful things and learning how to exist and have enthusiasm while settling into the comfort of an older age.”