SHOT BY MICHAELA TORNARITIS
Wagwarn readers. (Wagwarn is one of those terms I once used as a joke, and has now decided to take permanent residency within my vocabulary. It is genuinely my favourite greeting of choice when answering the phone.) Let’s talk letting go! As always, any imperatives are notes-to-self. You, do you.
Letting go is an idea that has swished around every corner of my rational mind…every crevice of my conscious thought. There is not the smallest cavity within these brain spaces that I have not forcibly filled with the words “Let go, Shope.” So clearly, I rationally understand how important it is to relinquish control in order to be at ‘peace’ with yourself, if you like. But, as I think we’ve all experienced, the void between logically comprehending something, and actually digesting it, is huuuuge. For me, the train of ‘letting go’, has left the station of understanding, and is 50% of its way to reaching the station of digestion. The insight I’ve gleaned from the beginning of “letting go’s” voyage is what I wanted to share in this week’s brain vomit. (Vomit is such an ugly word, I don’t know why I insist on using it).
I feel that I am going to struggle to be concise, when it comes to unpacking what is it to let go, but I will try. (3 years of philosophy lecturers screaming about how vital concision is to a good essay, can’t all be for nothing) Letting go, concisely, is to unburden yourself. It is not only to mentally (and physically) shake yourself down of all the pressures, expectations, shoulds and musts, that suffocate and restrict your ability to be true to yourself, but it is also to grant the same to other people. It is to be charitable to yourself and to others, and to navigate throughout the world with this thought always visible in your rear-view mirrors. (And if you’ve ever taken driving lessons, you’ll know how important it is to look in your rear view mirrors.)
It is to relinquish yourself of so much of the emotional baggage that we (myself, included) carry around every day. You know that person who wronged you in, like 1000BC? That person who you cut off in a fit of rage? Who, whenever you see them, can manage to evoke a seriously strong emotional reaction in you by simply existing? Let. Go. Not for them, but for yourself. You’re punishing yourself, more than you are punishing them, and you’re using up finite brain space with all of this crappy emotional energy. Grant that person the benefit of the doubt, even if they don’t deserve it. If I learn that someone has spoken ill of me (which happens once and a while), I don’t let it tarnish my opinion of them. Rather, I am charitable in my interpretation of them: “They clearly mis-interpreted me and what I stand for, and that’s what led them to make such a comment. Perhaps they’ll accurately perceive me at some point in the future, and realise that comment was unwarranted. Or perhaps they won’t, because their current frame of mind/environment/social group won’t allow them to. Either way, it’s no water off my back. I’m sure they are a lovely person.”
Letting go, is refusing to harbour ill-will toward someone just because they ‘bitched’ about you. More broadly, it is thus the ability to live your life free of the fear of how you will be perceived. Free of the shame that comes with someone perceiving you in a less than favourable way, or even simply in a way that is different to the way you perceive yourself, or the way you wish to be perceived.
Shame haunts me when I don’t let go; I’m ashamed of having changed my blog so many times, and having been at it for 5+ years w/o much crazy internet ‘success’. Internal conflict haunts me when I don’t let go; living my life according to who I am vs who I want others to think I am. Entitlement haunts me when I don’t let go: throwing my toys out of the pram when I work (very) hard, and conventional success doesn’t automatically follow (as if hard work entitles me to conventional success? The phrase “hard work pays off” seems somewhat true, but not necessarily in the form we all like to believe – and for me (or any of us) to play the ‘woe-is-me-life-is-so-unfair-the-universe-hates-me card each time our hard work doesn’t come to fruition in the sense that we expect is not only based on a limited view of what it is for something to ‘pay off’, but also due to our inability to surrender to life, and let go. Tangent, soz.)
And, funnily enough, this haunting of shame, conflict and entitlement (amongst other hauntings, I’m sure) is somewhat discreet. Though I have not experienced either, it does not seem to be akin to the sadness that haunts you when depressed, or the drowning feeling that haunts you when anxious. It doesn’t say “Hey! Look at me, all up in your business, restricting your life!”. Rather, I think it’s pretty undetectable – it masks itself as every day emotions that we probably do not feel the desire to analyse.
I guess I’m only 50% of the way there, because I have the desire to both ‘surrender’ to life, so to speak, and take responsibility for it. To understand that sometimes life will just life me, and I need to accept that, and at other times, to understand that being a hard working and disciplined individual, enables me to
be in control of my own destiny (lmao, cringe me later), be in control of my immediate environment, which is entirely necessary for my wellbeing.
In sum, unlike my outfit today, it’s not black and white, and there is a balance to be struck between the two.