By Bette Blance, M.Ed Studies
About eighteen months ago we had a very large copper beech tree cut down. It was a heart- breaking decision but it had been planted 40 years previously too close to the house. Being a deciduous tree it lost its leaves every winter and during the year, several other ‘drops’ of calyces and hard seed pods added to the clogging of the gutters and a roof that was deteriorating.
I had always loved the view of the copper beech tree as the lower branches framed our bedroom window. It was picture postcard view in all seasons.
Several things happened as a result of removing the tree. A bed of roses alongside the house have now flourished and flowered magnificently during the spring and summer.
A large camellia tree came into full view and as the flowering season continued, it spread a carpet of bright pink petals below it. I had not appreciated how beautiful this tree was until it stood there alone and proud, not crowded out by the copper beech. I had just not seen it.
We sometimes focus on what we have lost and don’t see the other things that are already in our lives. The lesson of letting go the copper beech was that the view changed and was replaced, when I chose to see it, by something equally as beautiful.
In life there are so many examples of how we cling to old things, hanker after things in the past and fail to notice what is good around us. We can spend a lot of time wanting something that no longer exists, whether it be a relationship or a that dream job, when we could be asking ourselves what is the miracle of what we have now.
In the words of Jeffrey McDaniel “I realise there’s something incredibly honest about trees in winter, how they’re experts at letting things go.”
By Dr. Ken Larsen
This is one technic for catching monkeys. Hollow out a large gourd, leaving a small opening at one end. Inside the gourd put a piece of fruit that monkeys like a lot. Then anchor the gourd securely and move on out of sight. Soon, a monkey will come along to check out the gourd. Finding the tempting piece of fruit inside, he reaches in and tries to pull it out. But the opening in the gourd is just big enough to get his hand in. Once he grasps the fruit inside, his hand is just too large to pull back out of the opening. Not wanting to let go of the fruit, the monkey is trapped with his hand in the gourd.
All the monkey has to do to get free would be to let go of the fruit, pull his hand out of the gourd and scamper up a nearby tree.
I wonder how often we grab and hold on to something that we think we want and need in spite of the harm it’s doing to us.
Some of the more destructive things we habitually hold on to are resentments. Something happened to us in the past that was harmful or hurtful. Sometimes the memories of these hurtful events haunt us and we play them again. There are many reasons for “playing the old tapes” and none of them are good. Each time we revisit those old resentments, the old feelings come back. We need to let go. Forgive the offender and make a conscious choice not to linger in those painful past places. It takes some effort to do this, but life today will be better if we let the past stay past.
All too often the psychic/emotional pain caused by re- feeling these resentments leads us to looking for relief in a behavior or substance. We feel bad and want to feel good and the cycle of resentment and pain can lead us to some wrong places to find the good feelings we want so badly. Those “wrong places, can be behaviors or substances that are addictive. We cycle from feeling bad to trying to feel good only to come back to feeling bad. We are stuck and don’t know how to let go.
Sometimes it’s hard to know the difference between a true addiction and just a bad habit. The one distinguishing characteristic that answers the question for me is “use despite harm.” If we’re doing something or using something and it’s doing us harm and we can’t just stop, I think “addiction”.
“Use despite harm” can cover behaviors, substances, even certain relationships. The key to letting go is to recognize that we are holding on to something that is harmful to us and then getting the help and support we need to let go and get free.