One of the main stressors in our lives is wanting things to be different than they are. I had a friend who never expressed seeing value in anything that I thought or did. After years of feeling frustration and anger I finally let go of expecting any sort of approval from her. First I limited our contact. Then, before we would get together I would meditate. I would imagine her smiling face in front of me and look deeply into her eyes. I let go of what I wanted and opened myself to the unique gifts that she brought into the world. The more that I practiced letting go of what I wanted and accepted what is, the more my stress dissolved.
It was good practice. We’re downsizing and for me that means I have to let go of lots and lots of books. I love books. I had books from when I was child through years of different phases: science fiction, baking, novels, memoir, art history and on and on. When I said something about letting go of my books the response was generally: So what! And I would smile, feeling so much compassion in my heart. In my head thinking: You must have never been on a deserted island galloping bareback on The Black. Your arms stretched to the sky as you glide through the sand, every cell in your being almost bursting with joy. You must have never dissolved into tears, sobbing when Beth died. Because she was the best of us. You must have never experienced life in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Australia or Mars. My world has grown from every book that I’ve read. Looking at them on my shelves shows me my evolution as a person and brings happiness to my heart. And now it’s time to let them go. As with anything in life, it happened in stages. First to go were the books that I had outgrown: Nancy Drew, The Bobbsey Twins and The Hardy Boys. Then Ludlum, Le Carre and L’Amour, they have all taken me on exciting adventures but it’s time to let them go.
Once I let go of wanting to keep all of my books and finally accepted that I won’t have room for them, something shifted. I became aware of an openness growing inside me and realized that I’m ready for a new adventure. Now each time that I think of a book that I’ve let go, I smile and feel a warm affection in my heart. And I think of the joy that they’ll bring their next reader.
Whether you’re dealing with a difficult person, losing a job, a health crisis or any of life’s other challenges, it can be difficult to shift your thinking from how you want things to be to accepting how things really are. But when you do, when you’re truly able to let go of how you think things should be and accept how they are, you let go of stress, disappointment and frustration. And with the letting go, you open room in your heart for peace, contentment and new beginnings.