We let go of things all the time. Small things like three dollars and sixty-three cents for an extra hot latte that wasn’t quite hot enough and had too much foam on top (#firstworldproblems) and big, life-changing things like marriages, friendships and places.
When I’m sitting in the cool welcoming landscape that time and perspective gives us all, I think “Letting go feels totally natural and necessary.” But then in the heat of the moment (Do I continue to love this person? Do I continue to care at all? Why did I let that stinging comment hurt me again?!) that release, that letting go, is on fire and can burn me up with the friction of deciding.
Where does that friction, that heat and pain of the moment come from? I’ve known, and I think we all have known, times when we have to let go. But I don’t always know when to let go or how. Most things in life come down to timing and method…when should I do this and how should I do this?
The last five months of my life have played out like a weekly drama centered on letting go. Each episode unfolding and teaching me more and more about the biggest lesson of letting go…when we hold lightly and loosely to our expectations and love what is, not what we wish, not what should be, letting go is freeing. It’s not always easy, but I’ve found it is always freeing.
In February, I let go of a career and company I’d worked at for over ten years. I let go of my title and parts of my identity that were tied to that work and that place. I also let go of routines and habits, some good and some bad, that supported that career and that identity.
The decision to let go in that moment bought me some time and space to rest and reflect on what was possible for the future. I was committed to being a free agent with no true idea of what I wanted to do or be in the next chapter of my life. I was committed to being curious and open and to trying new things. I was committed to slowing way down and listening very carefully. I knew that if I went from letting go of one career to grasping tightly to the next, I’d lose out on an opportunity to learn a bit more about myself and what I could do and be in this world. What I didn’t realize was that “be in this world” would actually come to mean where I would be in this world.
Four months later, I am readying my family to embark on a journey across the Pacific Ocean to another country. “Embark” and “journey” are such big and lofty sounding words. The reality is that in the middle of June, we will board a Philippine Airlines flight from Honolulu to Manila. It will take roughly 11 hours and when we land, the temperature will be about 10 degrees higher and the humidity, well that will be higher too. We’ll go from having no family where we live to having aunties, uncles and cousins. We’ll go from knowing where everything is and how to get it to needing lots of help and guidance.
The Philippines will be another island home for me, but one that will be completely new. I’ll encounter cultural differences, language differences, food differences and a whole host of experiences that will make me and my family different over time. This new home will challenge and engage me and I’m ready for the adventure.
And so I am also letting go of Hawaii to embrace a new place, a new home. Over the last few months, I’ve been learning how to let go of my expectations about my future in Hawaii. The image of growing old here and seeing my son graduating from Kaiser High School have started to go a bit fuzzy in my mind and I’ve begun to fashion a new idea of my future in the Philippines. It’s fuzzy too as the details are all yet to be worked out, but fuzzy or not it’s what I’m holding onto now. Not holding too tightly, but with care, great interest and curiosity, ready to love what is, not what I wish or what I think should be.
Pop Culture Note: I have not seen Disney’s Frozen. And in a weird way, I wear that fact as a badge of honor that I’ve made it through 7+ years of parenting without seeing that film. I know, I know…it’s a modern day classic and of all the Disney movies, it’s got the best feminist message. I know, I need to see it and I’m sure I will, but for now, I’m enjoying my status as cultural oddball on this topic. Movie aside, I do know the song. I think we all know the song with its various versions and spin offs. So I know that there’s a deep vein here when we talk about letting things go and it can produce some real gushers if you tap it just right. The filmmakers and songwriters were really onto something.