Clearing Space, Letting Go
Written on January 18, 2011 by Dr. Laurie
So how is your new year starting out?
We’ve had so much snow and cold windy weather that the year doesn’t feel fresh or new. Instead it already seems endless and repetitive.
But something has been happening in my life along with the weather. An elderly friend of mine has moved out of her home where she lived a happy and productive life for almost fifty years. It fell to me and another friend of hers to empty out her home so it can be rented. Closets, drawers, kitchen cupboards, all emptied and sorted and her possessions taken to new homes. It has been a monumental task. I would get in the groove and came home to my own drawers and closets to do the same ritual of emptying and clearing.
As this process has gone on, I have been meditating on the willingness ( or unwillingness) to let go, to clear room for the new. Often our response to life is to cling and hold on, not open our hands or dump out our sock drawer.
My friend, at age ninety- four, no longer felt she could live alone. She took a flying leap into a new life where nothing was known and she had to form different habits, and even see herself differently. She made herself let go. An enormous risk – but a life-giving one. She made a very difficult and demanding decision to let go in order to live.
That may not be how it happened for you. Perhaps your move into a new life was pushed by your body or your diagnosis. Suddenly the old life you had known no longer worked.
The question is – as you made your move, did you let go?
Letting go is layered – first there is the stuff. Maybe you keep old sports equipment around that you will never use again – because it hurts too much to let that part of yourself go. Ditto with clothes, or utensils that don’t fit your hands, or other mementos of your “old “ life. But what is the cost of having that stuff? You never really clear space in your house or your head. There is no room for the new.
Another layer, a harder one, is letting go of old ideas about how you should be, or how your life should go. But as with physical stuff, the mental clutter prevents you from flying free into the unknown of this new life.
You may tell me – I don’t want a new life – my old one was fine until the diagnosis, or the flare, or the fatigue.
Yes, that is the way it is for all of us – change disrupts what we imagined or hoped, or the way our life was. Change is rarely something we choose. Particularly demanding change that requires a new way of thinking and being.
The process of clearing space can be a meditation on both the loss and the room for the new. Letting go allows room for what we do not yet see, but hope and trust will emerge for us.
So, start small – like with that overgrown junk drawer, and see what comes for you.