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We’re all the heroes of our own stories, but the heroes we admire in literature and on the screen find themselves undergoing spiritual and emotional transformations more often than they find themselves using the bathroom. If all of us are heroes, each going on a continuous, limitless, and recursive journey throughout the stages of our lives, then where are you in your journey? How does it relate to your current struggles? What lessons are here for you to learn?
“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.” Ann Landers
There comes a time in each of our journeys where we have to let go. That might mean letting go of a habit that’s blocking our growth, an attachment to the way things are, or an impossible goal that is holding us back. As human beings, it’s in our nature to hold on tightly to the way things are, and find comfort in the ordinary state of things. But a protagonist has no choice but to interface with change, and as a participant in your journey, you have no choice but to be a protagonist.
When I talk about letting go, I am not talking about cutting people off, giving up on your dreams, or being detached from the things you care about. Letting go means releasing the attachments we feel towards our future, present, and past. This is easier said than done. By our very nature, we become incredibly attached to the things we care about, and our attachment becomes inevitably tangled with our passion like the Christmas tree lights in your attic. Our passions give us reason to push on and continue in the face of potential failure, but our attachments to success can leave us despairing over the obstacles that might pop up along the way. Our loved ones can offer us support when times get tough, but our attachments to them might lead to us rejecting them when they go through their own changes, or worse, take them for granted. Letting go means accepting not just the world as it is, but accepting the world as it could be and will be.
“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to.” Lao Tzu
When we picture letting go, what does it look like? The first thing that pops up for me (attached and imperfect as I am) is hanging off the edge of a cliff. But in reality, letting go is usually not so dire. A more applicable example to our everyday life is letting go of a balloon. When I was a child, and I’d lose hold of my balloon (or even see someone else lose hold of their balloon), it would make me inexplicably upset. Even when I thought about weather balloons, which are of course let go into the sky on purpose, it made me (an attached child) feel sad. The thought of releasing something beautiful, and then watching it grow increasingly distant before exploding in the loneliness of earth’s atmosphere was a piece of visual poetry that made me deeply sad because I had not accepted the necessity of letting go.
The thing that makes it difficult to let go is not the act of letting go. Letting go is natural, unavoidable, and often happens without our action or approval. The hard part is having acceptance not just when it comes time to let go, but also when we look back on the things we’ve let go of in the past. Here are a few common obstacles to acceptance and letting go:
“Thank God I found the GOOD in goodbye.” Beyonce Knowles
It doesn’t happen all at once. We let go of our attachments little by little on each phase of our journey. As you travel, you’ll find some thoughts worth stowing in your backpack, and some better left off to the side of the path. If you find yourself brushing up against the concepts of acceptance, letting go, and accepting when it’s time to let go, then here are the phases where those come up the most clearly.
Sunny Ebsary is an educator, multi-modal artist, and writer specializing in the intersection of myth and mental health. Sunny’s writing walks the line between poetic and logical, giving readers a chance to interface with the mind and imagination. Sunny’s been putting pen to paper since he was a child, writing everything from albums, novels, and plays, to essays, interactive games, and of course, many articles! While studying both psychology and writing, he realized his real passion in life was helping others unlock their creative spark. Whether he’s leading a D&D game, directing a production, or diving deep into the brain, you can be sure Sunny will be ushering you toward finding meaning in your life.
July 13, 2023
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