It’s the middle of 2019 and I don’t know how that happened. I feel like I fell asleep sometime around the end of February and just woke up to full-on summer in San Diego. What was I doing all that time? Probably just a bunch of nothing… just kidding, everyone who has ever met me knows that’s not true.
Anyway, enough rambling preambles. Mid-year, I always take a look at the goals I set in January to see what I have accomplished so far. One of my proudest accomplishments is telling a story at The Moth. That was the achievement that I wanted the most. I wanted it so badly that I could taste it. I wish I could see the recording of it so that I could remember it better and see the joy on my face as I told my story.
One of the toughest goals I set was letting go. Let me caution you about setting goals and putting things in writing: DO NOT EVER set the goal to let go unless you are absolutely sure you want to learn this lesson. In January, I wrote, “I will let go of things that I don’t even want to let go of so that I can create more space in my life.”
Insert a slow, sarcastic clap here.
I only have myself to hold responsible for this one. Yes, it is true that I want to practice nonattachment and remain committed to my life and not attached to outcomes. However, I am known for throwing myself in the deep end of the pool and that’s exactly what I did with this goal.
I set that goal with such bravado or blind faith in what I was doing. I have no idea which is more accurate. Maybe it was hubris.
Here’s the thing, I would gladly give away all my possessions and my money if I get to keep all the people I love. Releasing possessions is sometimes challenging because of sentimental feelings. Releasing people, now that’s a whole different level of letting go that I have always struggled with. The people I like. The people I don’t like can obviously just eff right off.
“I will let go of things that I don’t even want to let go of.” I wrote some similar words in a letter to someone recently. A letter where I let them go and it was the last thing I wanted to do – ever. Here is where the Universe is calling me to a higher level of trust and faith. It’s asking me, “Can you let this go and trust that more beautiful things will fall into its place?”
I don’t think I have another choice, really. I know that’s exactly how it works. Let go and then many more beautiful things rush right in. Also, there’s that old cliché, “If you love something, set it free.” People are the hardest for me to set free because I really do love them so much. My baseline of operation is loving people. Yes, it can go up or down rather quickly from there but you get the idea.
For the past few days, I have been thinking about this Steve Prefontaine quote.
“I’m going to work so that it’s a pure guts race at the end, and if it is, I am the only one who can win it.”
Prefontaine was a young middle and long distance runner in the 1970s who died in his early 20s. He was known for his passion and commitment to the sport. He left it all on the track for every race.
I have been inspired by Pre since I watched the movie “Without Limits” with my track team buddies in high school. I often think of how hardcore he was about life, running and he was pretty passionate about justice (one of my favorite things, too).
I think the reason this quote has been swimming around my mind is because I am realizing that it takes a lot of guts to constantly let things go. Letting things go means you’re almost always somewhere new and uncomfortable. Facing yourself in the mirror after each thing is let go and asking, “Who am I now?”
I didn’t realize this in the beginning, but it takes pure guts to release people, places and things and face the unknown. I’ve shed a lot of tears, had a lot of the SAME conversations, resisted the inevitable and then finally given in to letting go.
The thing that has become clear to me over the past six months is that if I am lucky, by the end of this year of letting go, I will be just like Pre and I will be the only one who can win this race.
Epilogue: I have also been comparing myself to Evel Knievel because he had a penchant for taking the leap, breaking a few bones and getting back up again. That’s me… with my emotions. So go ahead and choose the obscure athlete reference you like best. – Holly xo