Havelock Ellis once wrote that “the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on”.
People, events and circumstances will constantly test our ability to hang on and our ability to let go. The simple fact is that letting go requires considerably more practice, because holding on is so damn easy.
Holding on, is a hallmark of dependence. Whatever, or whomever, we decide to depend upon can help make us feel like we’re momentarily happy and superficially complete. Holding on may even make us imagine that our borrowed strength is in some way genuine. The fact is, we fear rejection. We fear being alone. So we hold on as much as we can, hoping that in some way, that’s the answer.
Letting go, however, is a noble art. Letting go requires you to have the courage to stand on your own – regardless of people, events and circumstances. Sometimes, you even have to let go before you are strong enough to do so, and there lies the biggest challenge of all. That’s when it pays to remember that “your strength is also built on what you lost”.
It’s in the moment you let go – of past grievances, of regrets, of wishing for a reality that just isn’t going to be – that you take a massive leap in strength. It’s in this moment that you decide, I really am all that I really need.
Sting once wrote that if you love somebody, set them free. Assuming, I suppose, that if they one day return, then you might have something. In a way, letting go, is another way of saying “I love you”.
I’ve also read that at some point you have to realise that some people can stay in your heart, but not in your life. There is no sense in wishing things were somehow different. There’s no gain in looking back, sadly watching those doors close behind you. You can only move forward, boldly opening new doors as you do.
Some will walk with you. Some won’t. We’re all on distinct journeys and we may even end up in the same place someday. These are the ways of the world.
In the end, hopefully you can just smile and say, “I showed up, come what may. I was the best person I could be, with the resources I had at the time.”