Letting Go To Move Forward
Letting Go To Move ForwardIt is in the nature of human beings to grab onto things as tightly as we can and to hang onto them. Perhaps it is something we learned 10,000 years ago, a trait that kept us alive, safe, fed, and part of a group. So we cling. We hang onto jobs, friendships, habits, relationships, addictions, as though they own us, we hang o to a feeling we once had, an experience, a thrill - maybe a smile, maybe a taste, maybe he sound of a laugh long since forgotten. Deep within our brains, the wiring has fused closed and we wait, longing for the return of something that has long since been - perhaps never was exactly the way we remember it anyway - hoping that if we do the same things the same way with the same object, person, job, habit or lifestyle, we will get it back.
There are two guiding principles in eastern philosophy, that of impermanence and that of attachment. The first is quite simple to grasp - in the words of Ponyboy in the Outsiders, “nothing gold can stay”. What is born begins dying at that very moment. What is well will become sick, what is fat will become thin and then fat again, what is new will become old and we will all, in the words of the creator, become dust when the world is done with us.
The second is more subtle. When we first own something, experience something, be something, it gives us a feeling. We love our new watch, our new trophy, our new car. The feeling of joy takes us, but after a few weeks, a few months, a few years, we find that feeling less and less. The object itself has not changed - the watch remains functional, the car does its job, it is ourselves who have changed. We have mistakenly understood that the object brought us joy, and in some cases pain, but it has not. We have done it ourselves.
These two principles of impermanence and attachment help explain why sometimes we must sometimes sacrifice the present for the future. Things change. We are fat now. We will be thin again. We are wealthy now but we will be struggling before our time is over. We love our car or our house or out lifestyles but one day we will have to leave them. We may love our addictions, our alcohol, our fast food, gambling, bad habits, but what they give us will not last. Attachment to impermanent events, actions or lifestyles makes us happy or sad when we lose these things, and makes us unwilling to change and move on.
Changing your life requires an understanding that nothing within that life is permanent, and that change is simply something that must occur to allow you to regenerate and move on. Like a forest fire encourages new growth, sometimes change must begin with pain. Remember that this pain, like the joy you felt that first time you indulged that addiction, will not remain. It is not the object or action that causes you pain, it is you.
Strength comes in many forms, and sometimes it is not lifting nor fitness that reveals a man. Sometimes it is showing the resilience of understanding when one is on the wrong path, understanding the need for change, and letting go to achieve it. Stay old man strong.