My daughter recently turned 6.
She was excited to turn 6.
She loved being 5.
She’s already thinking about being 7.
It’s clear that she views her turning 6 as a major milestone and life accomplishment.
It’s also clear that she had no problem letting go of 5.
Watching her go to sleep a 5 year old
and wake up a 6 year old
was, for me, an education in letting go.
Letting go can be simple.
After all, it’s natural to let go.
The entire universe, even time itself, constantly demand of us that we let go.
All of us are, quite literally, letting go in and of every moment of our earthly existence.
And most of the time we do it unconsciously, and without any thought or intention, without any evident pain or suffering.
Then there are times when we cling so firmly to something that the possibility of letting go seems absurd, even terrifying.
There seem to be things, and lots of them, that evoke our clinging mechanism.
Because of the loss. Because of the way that those things anchor us. Because of our identification with those people, things, experiences, and ideas.
There something beautiful about our clinging. There’s something romantic about holding on, about refusing to let go.
A lot could be said at this point about the balance in life, of holding on and letting go. A lot has been said.
For example, holding on tightly and letting go lightly.
Somehow “adulting” often ends up complicating our natural ability to navigate the letting go. Adulting gives us plenty of opportunities to deploy our clinging mechanisms.
I’d offer that my turning 38 is, like my daughter turning 6, a lesson in letting go, but for different reasons. Reasons like the clinging mechanism.
While more challenging, the possibility of meaningfully letting go as an adult brings with it the possibility of radical growth and transformation of consciousness.
Letting go doesn’t mean throwing in the towel. It doesn’t meaning living an apathetic or untethered existence. Instead I think it means encountering self, other, experience, and world as they actually are rather than as we want them to be.
And going from there.