The hardest part about letting go

Sacramento District removes ordnance, preserves native plants with controlled burn
Photo credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The hardest part about letting go is everything.

The desperation.
The mourning.
The change.
The rattling.
The shaken foundation.

Sometimes letting go is not chosen, because things get taken or disappear. Other times, letting go is chosen. And then, you grip that thing so much tighter when its on the verge of slipping away. Suddenly realizing it hurts to hold on, you release. And you let it go not because you want to, but because you have to. No one can survive holding onto something that will inevitably escape. As hard as you fight. As wildly as you thrash. Some things just can’t be held. Notions. Plans that never were. Loves. Loved ones. Things never had. The ones who left. The people we never became.

Untethered, they’re just not meant to be held onto for too long even if there is some comfort in feeling like you were winning for a while, maintaining that balloon by its string.

The other hardest part about letting go is you’re never ready.

Life gets shaken upside down, set back down, walked away from with all the scattered pieces strewn about and no plan as to how you’re suppose to put it back into place (and really that place is gone once that thing that couldn’t be held went away). It’s too bad someone has yet to write instructions on how to piece together the things in our lives that no longer fit.

A man at a cafe once told me, “sometimes life becomes a chaparral. The underbrush gets burned away, flames ripping through the forest enflaming and then disintegrating everything dead and dry among the forest floor. And what we don’t see are the seeds that need those flames to ignite and then flourish.” He noted the way we view smoke as a warning sign, then stop the clearing, focus our efforts on averting danger and loss. While we might have good intentions, when we do this, we lose out on the power of starting anew.

The other hardest part about letting go is starting over.

I can count the times I’ve lost almost everything and the only thing that remained was a few friends. Everything afterward felt uncertain and I never knew where to begin except where I was. Neither did I know where I was going.

But the funniest thing of it all is, the best times of my life have been the hardest ones when — after everything already went up in flames — the burning was behind me and all that lie ahead was what I was yet to create.

So then really, the best part about letting go is everything else that isn’t the hardest, and you get to decide what that is and will be amid what was.

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