L is for Letting Go

For me, the hardest thing about going forward is knowing that certain things need to be left in the past. Sometimes they are easy because we just know they aren’t right for us anymore, but other times they evoke memories and feelings that we just don’t want to toss away.

photo of boy swinging over body of water
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I remember being a kid and learning to roller skate. The crazy feeling that my feet weren’t stable and I couldn’t just walk. Holding onto the wall at the rink and shuffling along while the bigger kids just zipped around made me feel like I’d never get it.

It wasn’t until I let go of the wall that I learned to skate. Lots of falling and scraped knees, but there was no way to ease into skating. I just had to let go and learn my own balance and rhythm.

The first time we went zip-lining we were in Alaska. The first platform was 200 feet about the forest floor and we watched as the people before us went. For some it was something they had lots of experience doing and other clung to the railing before they went, screaming across the rainforest.

A few stepped back and let others go and a few actually decided it wasn’t for them. I remember standing at the edge and wondering what the fuck had gotten into my head to make me suggest this. The guide said, “You just have to let go. You’ll love it.” And so, I looked forward and stepped off the platform. It was one of the singularly most exhilarating moments of my life and it’s never lost that thrill no matter how many times we go.

Physically letting go is terrifying, but I think mentally and emotionally are even harder. We don’t want to give up that friend who we have years of memories with even if the friendship just has been outgrown. The sentimental gifts from a family member that just doesn’t work with our space and storing it just feels wasteful.

Holding on, though, is its own type of pain. The friendship doesn’t make us feel happy and getting together or staying in touch feels like work. The items in our house make us feel guilty for not using them or putting them in a box just to gather dust.

Sometimes the only thing to do in life is to decide that there is no easy answer. It’s just a choice of staying where I am or letting go and moving on. As hard as it is, I don’t look back at all with regret at the things that I chose to let go. Letting go has always opened up new and better experiences and makes me feel at peace with me.

“The only real battle in life is between hanging on and letting go.”

Shannon L. Alder

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