My friend and I walked down the hallway of a veterinary clinic in my dream. Doug and I marveled at fluffy, tiny kittens curled up on shelves, begging us to love them. Doug chose a long-haired kitten, picked it up, petted it briefly, then placed it back onto the shelf. We were in a hurry to leave the clinic for an appointment of some sort. I pushed the glass door and allowed Doug to exit the building first. Just before I was to go through the doorway, I awakened from the dream. I instantly understood the symbolism of the dream–death of a loved one and moving on. The dream packed a powerful message that I needed to relearn.
Life is relationship with people, places, and things. In order to live life more fully, we must be willing to lovingly let go of the past. It’s OK to enjoy reminiscing about old friends, where we’ve been, and stuff we used to used to own; but it’s important to actually let go so as to fully embrace the present day.
Doug passed away in mid-January, so I’ve been mourning the loss since then. The recent dream was an emotional breakthrough in that it triggered the epiphany about loss. The kittens were an essential part of the dream because both Doug and I never owned cats, we simply enjoyed other people’s cats. A neighbor’s cat used to visit Doug, and Orange the cat regularly visits me. The cats represent the temporary nature of our relationships. Nothing is forever. We must always move on.
“Your heart’s strength is measured by how hard it holds on. Your self-worth and faith is measured by finally letting go. However, your peace is measured by how long you don’t look back.”–therapist and author, Shannon L. Alder
It is difficult to let go of our attachment to suffering. We fear the uncertain, unknown things of the present and future. It’s easier to fall back on the familiar, status quo of the past. We may suffer profoundly due to events and circumstances of the past but if we choose to allow recovery, we will once again be able to feel the majesty of life again. When someone leaves or when circumstances change, someone or something else may be due to arrive. If not, then it is time for frank acceptance of life as it actually unfolds.
It is wise to understand that letting go of a loved one is the most difficult act we will ever accomplish. There are those who never want to surrender to love because they fear being hurt. However, as many people will attest, to love is an immense joy. To not love is to miss out on one of the driving forces of life. To love is a privilege and a joy. To not let go is to live in an illusion of false hope.
It’s important to realize that when we grow up, we discover who we are and what we want. Then we understand that people we’ve known don’t see life the way we see it. They are/were also discovering who they are and what they want. We can cherish the lovely memories about them, but eventually we keep moving on.
The dream was a positive experience. It showed the way to let go of suffering. There is absolutely nothing I could have done to prevent the trials and tribulations of the past. These were not mine to cling to and judge. Why hold onto what only existed in the past and keeps me from being fully in love with the present? The kittens had to remain on the shelves. I had to release Doug to the outdoors. This is how it must be.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes essayist and novelist, Haruki Murakami. “No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories.”