Article

Letting Go

Moving Forward

Looking through a longer lens…
Sunday evening I stayed up (too late) watching a documentary about Muhammad Ali. I remember reading about him years ago in Time Magazine. I remember him being controversial and arrogant, but I had no sense of the context of his behaviour. The biopic was fascinating, because I realized that to understand Mohammed Ali you have to understand the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and the Vietnam War. When all of the social and cultural factors come into view (and only after many years have passed), Mohammed Ali comes out looking like a hero, and not the villain he was portrayed as for years. New information means letting go of past beliefs.

We are part of a vast number of beings in time…
I’ve been talking to friends lately about how to let go of things (and if you know me you’ll laugh, because I’m not good at it). My teacher’s advice has been to take a longer view. This requires some imagination, but it’s not impossible. When we’re in the midst of a break-up or a bad relationship or even just an annoying health problem it feels insurmountable; it feels like we will suffer forever. What we fail to account for is time passing. The old cliché, “time heals everything” is meant to help us see this, but often we can’t wrap our heads around this simple truth. Nothing is permanent. We have to zoom out with the lens of our attention if we want to let something go. We have to imagine who we will be in twenty years time, and we have to step back from our sense of self-importance. No matter how successful or fit or attractive we are, we’re all going to die in the end. We are just one of seven billion individuals trying to make our way in the world.

This is water…
All of our lives are set within much larger social and cultural currents that we can’t see (like fish in water) and the ideas we grip for, the stories we cling to, are largely imaginary. Some are bizarre, e.g. Donald Trump is a model of success. If we can imagine a bigger view, a longer view, we can see that carrying an extra ten pounds, or not getting along with a co-worker, or missing out on a promotion, are all pretty small things in the end. Our feelings still hurt, and we need to acknowledge our pain, but we don’t need to obsess over it. That way we can save our energy,  focus on writing new stories, and create new possibilities for making the best use of the short time we have,

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Yoga and meditation teacher, writer, reader, cat-momma, environmental warrior, friend