I’ve just finished delivering the last of 3 classes on The Power Of Hope, a set of classes I created to go with my upcoming Desire Map Workshops that I have been test-running for the past 6 weeks.
…and I feel a profound sense of loss.
It hasn’t been easy – I’m running these classes alongside a full time day job with an average 3 1/2-4 hour daily commute. I’ve burnt out doing it. And yet I feel as if I can’t live without doing this either.
I had heard about teachers who cry at the end of each academic year when they have to let their current cohort go after watching them grow over the year, after experiencing with them all the trials and tribulations of the year. It didn’t occur to me that running workshops had the potential for a similar effect.
It’s the part of me that’s like a little innocent girl who wants to play forever. She doesn’t want the fun to end. Like when Nana would have to go home after visiting for several days when I was a child, and I would be overcome with this desperate desire for the fun, light and laughter never to end, and for life to return to grey.
And that’s the wonderful thing with these workshops – they’re great fun, and they bring out different things in different people who come into contact with them.
But now, this first round is coming to an end over the next week, and I feel impending grief coming.
There’s only one way out – I have to let go.
I have to let go of this first round of The Desire Map And The Power Of Hope, so that I can fall back, regroup, and plan the next one.
Letting go is something I stubbornly struggled with all my life.
I always have done.
“You’re telling me that the fun must end? I don’t want it to end!
…I want to keep holding on. I don’t want to move on. Why does time have to move on?”
…Because time marches on, whether we want it to or not.
Holding onto something that is about to move on hurts. But if you cling onto it, it will move on into the past, and you are still stuck where you are. And the further into the past it is, the more it hurts – because you are physically further away from that past the further time moves on.
Our bodies are in the present moment, but our minds can both wander into the past and can consider the possible futures. But this disconnect can only be maintained for so long – staying in the past generates sadness the further away from it you become as time marches onwards with you in it; and as much as the further into the future you try to imagine, the more anxious you feel (because nobody can be entirely sure what the future holds).
The only way to come back to yourself – right now in the present – is to let go.
I used to believe that letting go was an act of weakness, like giving up. Giving up was for wimps. Giving up signalled failure on my part for not being faithful enough to the thing I was clinging onto.
I didn’t want to fail. I didn’t want to be weak. I wanted to prove that I was devout and faithful to those people, those ideas and things I was clinging onto. Religiously clinging on.
So I would tighten my grip – white knuckle it if I had to. And woe betide any wise soul who would try to persuade me to let go: I’d bite their heads off! They didn’t understand what it meant to me, they didn’t understand why I was doing it – or at least, if they did, they never let it be known to me that they understood, otherwise I might’ve been a bit more polite about telling them to back off and leave me with my white knuckles.
Sometimes I would have such a tight grip for so long on a fragment of something that had meaning a long time ago, but I couldn’t remember anything else except holding on. Old dreams. False hopes.
But that’s no good for anyone – least of all myself, especially if I can’t even remember why I was holding on in the first place.
And yet the prospect of leting go…was always terrifying to me.
Because nobody showed me how.
Nobody showed me that they understood why I was clinging on – nobody asked why, and nobody asked what I actually wanted; because there were times I wanted to let go, but if you don’t know how, and you are alone in it…well, what else are you supposed to do but do what you know, and carry on clinging on?
Ultimately, I learnt how.
This is how I let go of things.
I took a cue from Danielle LaPorte in her talk at the Emerging Women conference:
“You can’t fight your way to inner peace.”
Likewise – you can’t let go of something that you’re white-knuckling onto.
If you had a ball in your hand that you didn’t want to let go of, you tighten your grip on it.
Trying to wrestle that ball off you when your grip is that tight? You clamp down tighter on it so that it doesn’t move, it doesn’t go. It’s agony, for everyone.
But if you just relax your grip…it becomes loose in your hand, and you can take that something away with much less pain.
However…you also need to WANT to let go – if not letting go of the goal, then at the very least letting go of the method you’re using to get to it. If you don’t want to let go, then you’re not going to let go – you’ll find a way to tighten your grip again on it. It’s that simple.
Even if it makes you ill. Even if it could kill you. Even “toxic”, “damaging” and “destructive” behaviours give the person doing it something that they’re clinging onto. It won’t stop unless you want it to stop, unless you want another way.
And when you do want it to stop? When you do want another way?
I’ve found that I need to completely and utterly relax into it – ease into it, lean into it, unclench that fist – so that it becomes easier for it to go.
When I had to let go of my friend at her funeral, who died from complications from cancer last year, I found that the only way to surrender was to physically tell myself to relax – or “to ease into myself”, since the word “relax” doesn’t have the desired effect on me – consciously, in every part of my body, including my stomach and heart. And once I was completely physically relaxed, I wished her Freedom and Peace, and invited her to go.
The actual act of Surrender doesn’t hurt. The grief afterwards hurts, and requires as much compassion, presence, patience and love as is needed to help you through, however long it takes.
I’m quite sure that, sometimes, it’s the fear of the pain from the grief or loss that will come from letting go that causes us to cling on more tightly.
But the actual act of Surrender doesn’t hurt, not when you have already released your grip on whatever you need to let go of – people, pets, precious objects, goals, dreams, hopes, desires…
And surrender is what I will have to do when my current run of The Desire Map Workshop finishes. I will let it go, grieve the changes, and reflect on what has happened so that I can make it even better for the next round.
My little innocent girl will cry with the loss, but the thing that my little innocent girl forgets is that the next fun thing will come soon. There will be more Desire Map Workshops in the future, and with that will bring more fun, excitement, joy, and deep purpose and fulfilment.
All the things I’ve been looking for all along.
Let the moment of Surrender come.
I am ready.