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Letting Go

Seven years ago, I made a huge life change. My husband and I decided
to sell our house in the U.S.and go live in Southeast Asia. We spent
the next twelve months sorting through the accumulated possessions
of more than twenty years, deciding what to sell, what to discard,
what little we should take with us. The process was exhausting and
somewhat painful, but in the end, we managed to relieve ourselves
of about 80% of what we had owned. Even then, we shipped half a
container's worth of stuff to our new home - too much, we now

I learned a lot from that experience about letting go. I came to
realize what a burden it was having so many _things_, and how freeing
it was to release them. The process changed me. I am far less
concerned, now, about things. I think twice before I buy something that
will just add clutter to my apartment. When a favorite item of
clothing disintegrates or one of my dozens of pairs of earrings
goes missing, I shrug my shoulders. They're only things. I can let go
of them.

The Buddha taught that attachment is the source of suffering.
The older I get, the more true this seems. The secret to peace and
joy seems to be letting go. Letting go of guilt. Letting go of worry.
Letting go of the hurts of the past, and the lost loves as well.
Letting go of the need to have the approval of others. Letting go of
the desire to control or to change them.

As I hone my craft as a writer, I'm starting to realize that letting
go is essential in this arena as well. You can't coerce creativity.
You can't consciously summon inspiration. All you can do is relax and
open yourself, letting go of the white-knuckled determination to write
and hoping that inspiration will find you. I have some stories that
flowed from me unbidden, out of my heart and onto the page. I have
others where I sweated over every word, gritting my teeth, determined
to produce with or without the help of my muse. Reading these stories
later, you'd find it easy to tell the difference.

Recently I was corresponding with Carol Lynne, another TEB author,
about the Round Robin we've been featuring in the TEB newsletter. I
wrote the first installment. She wrote the second. I liked what she
did with my beginning, but there was this nagging concern that she was
turning the story in directions that I had not envisioned. Then I
realized - after writing the part one of "Not Quite Dead", I had to let
it go, release it to the next contributor. Carol agreed. She had a
whole story plotted out in her head, she said, but then she realized:
it wasn't her story any more.

Last, but hardly least, I think that letting go is the key to fabulous
sex. Each of us may have different burdens to release. For some, it's
embarrassment. Perhaps we are plumper than we think is
attractive. Maybe we sag or have wrinkles or aren't flexible enough to
pull off some of the positions in the Kama Sutra. For others, it might
be fear or shame, because we've been taught that sex is dirty or
sinful - fear of our own capacity for passion. Whatever barriers stand
between us and fulfillment, we need to let them go. It can be scary,
releasing conscious control, trusting your instincts and those of your
partner, allowing desire to sweep you away. From my experience,
though, this is the key to ecstasy. Let go and let love take you
over. You'll never be the same.


Sedonia Guillone said...

Great post, Lisabet. I agree with you on all of this!

Marie Harte said...

what a wonderful post! Yeah, I'm finding that letting go does bring you peace. Especially from editors who have issues with too many adverbs!! hahaha
Seriously though, you wrote a though-provoking piece. So are you still living in Southeast Asia?


LynTaylor said...

Whole heartedly agree that the more you acquire over time the more burdened you become. Our house is over-crowded with 'stuff' and it really does get depressing. It's amazing how good I feel when I drop off a bag at our local OpShop. It really does feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Strange but true ;) Great post!

Sierra Cartwright said...

Lisabet, this feels really honest and open. Thanks!

Don said...

Great point made and well-received. There has to be a letting go taking place in order to experience that untapped flow.

All you can do is relax and
open yourself, letting go of the white-knuckled determination to write
and hoping that inspiration will find you.


Marie Haynes said...

Your blog is well timed. I'm just not sure I'm strong enough to let go of so much.