the ART of LETTING GO

… about trusting life

Few weeks back we went on a canoe tour. I never would have thought, that I will enjoy it so much, but nowadays I can barely wait for the early august canoe tours. It was in the “year of Corona”, that I first participated on such a boat trip. I knew I have a mortal fear of water, and  that where my feet don’t reach the bottom, a panic attack is most certain to happen, BUT… It was still a better option, then the slow death of the four wall confinement.

So first year I got on board with a properly fastened safety vest, plus an additional one in my hand. Just in case… I remember the moment, that I sat in the canoe and felt it wobbling under me. I had a big smile on, thinking: this is not that bad! This feeling lasted until all others got in, and we started rowing. When the canoe’s counterintuitive movements picked up, my smile wasn’t so wide anymore. I had a panicky feeling, but I was certain, that there is no way that we can capsize in this lousy thing. We survived!

By the second year, the open water was a better friend. I remember when my friend would sometimes shout back, “stop what you’re doing, you’re rocking the boat!!!”, I’d say to her with a huge grin, “Vera, this is life. The more you try to control it, the more you realise that you can’t! Let it wobble!” LOL…

This year I was a total expert. This boat, that paddle, life jacket? What for? Let’s go! It was the end of the last day and we were heading back to camp. We passed by almost all fellow travellers. If we can make a race of it, why not, right? We were gliding on the water, enjoying the scenery, the wildlife, the water-lilies and the fact that our team was rowing like a well-oiled machine. Our egos overgrew us a bit, but that’s what it feels like being a winner. Right?

Unfortunately a tree branch hanging over the water thought differently. After a quick, “let’s go around it, no we can pass under it” type of debate, the next thing I remember is the sight of water-lilies from below. Well, canoeing really seems to be like life. Compulsory learning. However, I have some very good news about what I have learned:

  1. Our emergency reactions cannot be predicted! We, who like to catastrophize things from time to time, always try to foresee how we will react or feel in a given situation. I remember one of my biggest problems was, that if I fall in the water, with my eyes closed, how will I know which way is up and down? Now I know that I don’t have to worry about that, because my eyes were open all the time. Why? I have no idea, but it seems that it was necessary in order to solve the situation. So no need to make up disaster scenarios, it will be as it has to be.
  2. Me befriending water seemed to be helpful. Although an emergency, I managed not to panic. Sure, it took a few minutes for my contact lenses to clear and for me to see which way I was heading. But as soon as I managed to swim out, take a breather and asses the situation, I was swimming back to save what was still left to save. So make friends with your fears, as you never know when you have to face them. Even if you are sure, that this would never happen to you!
  3. It’s worth analysing why it happened. How could we get ourselves in this situation, what do we do better next time? Quite frank and profound discussions followed. Along the topics of trust, ego and hearing each other out. Humility can be learned. Either voluntarily, or life will find ways to deal us the slaps required for us to learn it. 

But what does letting go have to do with all of this?

“Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness…”

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Getting back on board I started to count my losses. MY SUNGLASSES! Seems they went swimming. All who know me are already laughing, as they know I have another 20 pairs at home. But not like this one! Why? Because we travelled the world together and witnessed many wonderful things together in the past 7-8 years. It had one tiny fault. Somewhere along the years, it must have made acquaintance with my keys at the bottom of my purse. It had a scratch right at the height of my left pupil. Needless to say how annoying it was during driving, or overall. But due to its sentimental value I was unable to let it go, even if it would have long been time for a change. So this problem got solved. 1:0

My sunglasses were joined by my swimsuit. I bought them in Thailand like 100 years back. They were neither becoming in size or support anymore, but somehow they were still the first to reach the bottom of my luggage at every trip. I remember thinking after every swim, that they should be retired. But… Life-Me: 2:0.

And the third item, that I will never miss! My microfibre towel. Remember the first times when these “fits in your pocket” towels appeared? I bought it thinking it’s a great product, but proved to be the most useless thing I ever bought! Fact, it would fit in your pocket, but that it was in no way suitable to absorb water, is also a fact. But, since I bought it, I might as well use it. Even if it’s useless. 3:0.

It was a strange realisation how much we can hold on to things, even if we could rightfully deem them useless. Of course, this can be sold off under the slogans of sustainability. But let’s be frank. Sometimes we just need a reason to grumble about nothing. If you recognise yourself, whatever it is you are holding on to, throw it out! If you won’t, life will find a way to make you!

And this applies not just to objects, but to thoughts, worries, relationships, and many more…

Except for sunglasses. I got a new pair of those. 😀 Sans scratches.

letting go / elengedés
All rights reserved ©. Albert Erika 2022.
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