When you must un-cling, well, you certainly must!
A reader wrote to me saying “letting go” is never easy: “If only letting go were as easy as closing a book! We are expected to play some roles, perform some duties, irrespective of what we feel, and everything becomes just one big pretend.”
I agree with his perspective. This has been my experience too. But the truth is that “letting go” is sometimes not an option any of us has; in certain situations it is perhaps the only way. It is therefore important that we understand clearly what “letting go” means and what it certainly is not.
“Letting go” means the ability to detach yourself from a situation, person, event or opinion; it simply means un-clinging from whatever you are clinging on to. It certainly does not mean abdicating responsibility or running away. It is clearly not recommended as a way to avoid performing a duty or dropping ownership of a situation.
When you don’t let go of something, or someone, you suffer. This is a plain and simple truth about Life. Clinging on brings misery. So, “letting go” means making a conscious choice that despite all the pain, despite all the trappings of attachment, despite the emotional burden on you, you choose not to suffer. “Letting go” is a gift of freedom that you award yourself.
Let me explain this with an example. My friend’s parents are ailing; they are both bed-ridden. My friend is going through a separation with his wife because the lady refused to partner with him on his responsibilities as a son. The parents are conservative folks, very ritualistic and demand a lot of attention. My friend has taken the separation from his wife in his stride. He says the “burden of guilt” – for having let the marriage break-up owing to his “sense of duty” towards his parents – is enormous. But he says he has forgiven himself for it. He says he realized he cannot please everyone. So, he forgave his wife for her choice, forgave himself for his choice, forgave his parents for being who they are, the way they are, and he’s at peace with his reality. This is “letting go”. He says he practically does not have a social Life because apart from keeping his day-job, all his waking hours are consumed by tending to his parents or fulfilling religious rituals on their behalf. So, he makes his peace with his personal Life by staying up late every night and watching a movie on his laptop while having a couple of drinks. This is “letting go” again!
Of course, “letting go”, in my friend’s case could have also been admitting his parents to a senior citizens’ home and choosing to be with his wife. Had he made that choice, I would have still not called it dereliction of duty. I, for instance, have made a similar choice with regard to my own relationship with my parents.
There is no right or wrong way to “letting go”. In some situations in Life, “letting go” is the only way to inner peace. Clearly, “letting go” comes from accepting your current reality, and from knowing which parts of your Life you can control and which parts you cannot, from knowing what you want from Life, in a given situation, and what you don’t want – and, important, knowing the difference! So, while “letting go” may not exactly be easy, it is simple, it can be done. You decide when you want to un-cling and, well, just do it!