As a writer, I often read things that touch me and light a small spark of creativity in my mind. But then I am not sure quite what to do with the quote or the idea. Instead of just letting it go, I write it down. I have notes like this all over my office.
That said, I have started trying to de-clutter and get rid of extraneous, energy-clogging stuff in my house (again!) and in the process, cool things tend to show up. This last weekend, it was one of those scraps of paper with a quote by the Persian poet Rumi who once said, “Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.” Isn’t it interesting that it would show up just as I was having to make decisions about what to keep and what to give my daughter-in-law for her yard sale?
In any case, seeing that and actually deciding to release things that had been in my house for far too long (can you imagine something like 25 jigsaw puzzles?) got me to thinking about what is worth keeping and what is worth letting go.
So, to the best of my ability, here are a few of my thoughts on that …
People are worth keeping … stuff can go
Memories are worth keeping … regrets should be released – forever
Love is worth keeping … hate hurts and can go
Caring relationships are worth saving forever … grudges only hurt
Successes are worth treasuring … failures can go once we learn from them
Peace is worth keeping … conflict and chaos are worth letting go
Family is worth keeping … toxic relationships are worth letting go
It is very easy to hold on to things because we “might need them some day” or because we have some emotional attachment to them. But in time, all those “might needs” just take valuable space from what can truly enrich your life. Rather than think of the stuff I let go as being discarded or wasted I am trying to think of it as finding a new home with someone who needs it far more than I do.
For example … for years, I refused to give away a single book I had bought and read. Now, I am a voracious reader, so eventually I was buried in paperback books. They were everywhere! Until one day, I realized I would never read a single one of them again and asked myself why I would deny someone else the pleasure of enjoying those stories. Suddenly it was much easier to donate them to the Visiting Nurses for their annual book sale. They earned money for their cause, someone else enjoyed the stories, and I felt a tremendous clearing of the energy in my house.
Sometimes what we let go is beyond our control. I think of the year we had to evacuate because of flooding or the recent wildfires that completely demolished entire neighborhoods in California. When you are faced with losing everything, you must quickly decide what is important to keep and what ultimately has no real meaning for you. It can come down to recognizing that as long as you still have those you love, nothing else is especially important. The rest is just stuff and replaceable.
I think the idea of balancing what we keep with what we let go of is especially important after someone we love is gone. We loved that person so much that we want to keep every reminder of them with us forever. Their clothes, their favorite coffee cup, the gifts they gave us, their very scent. Perhaps we fear that in letting anything of theirs go we will let them go as well. I don’t think that is possible. Their memory holds a permanent space in our heart. That will never change. But at some point, we begin to live in the world again. That is when mere things can no longer tie us to the one we can no longer hold. That is when we can begin releasing the material things as we grow more comfortable with letting them go and instead learn to keep their memory vividly alive in our heart. That memory will never die and it is eminently worth keeping.