Why I Am Learning To Let Go
I have recently realised that I have been playing a character that has taken me fifty years to perfect and I’m not even sure I want the part.
A couple of days ago I heard an anecdote about a man who’s life had become so unbearable that he decided to leap from the Golden Gate Bridge. Luckily for him, he actually survived the fall and later was reported to make the following statement. “Five seconds into the fall I realised that there was nothing in my life that I couldn’t have changed if I really wanted to, except the decision I made five seconds ago.”
I have heard the phrase ‘The Universe provides’ so many times that it now sounds to me like fingernails down a blackboard. In accepting it as a truth I feel that I would be simply rejecting one form of fatalism for another. Instead of believing that an all powerful deity is making my conscious decisions for me, It tells me that, worse still, an unconscious ‘something’ has been randomly rolling the dice in some Dungeons and Dragons version of my life. I find this unacceptable in the grand scheme of things and I hate the idea that the course of my life is pre-determined, regardless of my choices. It makes me feel powerless and that I may as well just sit and accept that what will be, will be.
In rejection of this destiny paradigm I have been trying to micro manage my life, to create the appearance of control by making slight tweaks here or there that ultimately have very little impact on the big picture. At the same time I have been convincing myself that I am successfully engineering my life to be how I want it. I have said to my wife many times in jest “I have spent forty years working out how I like things and I’m not about to change now”. However, this is exactly what I need to do. I need to make real changes and not be afraid to abandon them if they don’t fit. Just as I am letting go of the physical things in my life that no longer serve me, I need to let go of the psychological traits in the same way and often the two are very much connected. In getting rid of all the physical clutter in my life I have come across many things that I have found it hard to part with and often felt that in letting go of them I am letting go of part of my self, part who I am. In truth, what they have become are props that remind me of the part I must play and by surrounding myself with them I am refusing to allow time to drop out of character and find out what it feels like to just be in the moment, without the need to play the character.
I have been so steadfast in my refusal to change that not only have I rejected the governance of a deity or The Universe, but I have also killed off the ability for me to change myself for the better.
I am now wondering what would happen if I were to throw away the script and be the actor instead of the character? What might I discover about myself?
Well in getting rid of the props I have been using, things that I have bought that say ‘this is who Terry is’ I am finding that I have begun to expose parts of my self that were never really me in the first place. I bought a surf board about two years ago and it has hung in my shed, unused ever since. I bought it because I wanted to create a piece of ‘Terry’ that looked like what I wanted people to see. I’ve been surfing twice in my entire life and whilst I truly enjoyed it, I didn’t need to adopt that as part of the character. It could have just been something I did. This behaviour is how I have burdened myself with a house full of possessions that tie me geographically and sentimentally and this is how I have painted myself into a corner with regards to the person I am. It’s time to put down the paint brush, stop worrying about getting paint on my shoes and make for the door.
So what exactly does that look like? Well, it means I have to admit the fact that in every situation there is a possibility that I am wrong.
So who is the real Terry?
Honestly I have no idea yet, because I am still dismantling the character that has taken fifty years to create.
In getting rid of the physical possessions that were my props in the Terry role, I have begun to learn that the less I pretend to know about myself, the more I begin to find out who the real me is. The actor behind the character. What I now need to do is to start letting go of my mental clutter that binds me to this role, to step out of the costume and see what I look like back in the green room, off-stage.
So back to the original thought. In discovering who I really am I have to take on a new belief that no-one provides. There is no deity managing my day-to-day affairs, The Universe is more than busy enough doing whatever it does and whilst I still don’t like the idea that I am not in control of every facet of my life, I have to accept that much of it exists as a result of the character I have played and expected everyone and myself to believe I am. I can change so much in my life that matters, simply by making the decision not to play the ‘Terry’ character any more and start dismantling the character, the parts I am so tired of playing. There is nothing I cannot change in my life if I really want to, as long as I don’t commit to playing the same part for the rest of it.