I went walking through the woods of the campground one morning. It was wet, with droplets of water and sap both falling from the trees. I had snuck off without a word to my husband or our friends. I didn’t want to answer their questions about the look in my eyes.
I had a heaviness in my heart, a question in my thoughts and a song in my ears…
Don’t let your mind get weary and confused
Your will be still, don’t try
The first two lines of the same song I turn to every time I’ve found myself sunken into weariness. Exhaustion. My old friend, overwhelm.
Except this time it was a deeper sort of pain, the kind that brings tears to your eyes for unknown reasons and leaves you holed up in your home, puttering around shoeless and successfully avoiding the real world.
My deep desire to release the pain I was holding caught on that line of this old familiar song as I laid my head down on the picnic table and asked with all my heart,
“How do I let go? How do I not try?”
I am a do-er. A fixer. Give me a problem and my mind wants to solve it. It’s the idealist in me…if only I can finish this project, stop those tears, ease that pain, say that one perfect thing, craft the perfect email…then we can all breathe, rest, find joy, experience laughter, create peace.
How do I NOT TRY for those things?
There is a side of me that whole-heartedly rejects any concept of not trying. It sounds too much like giving up, quitting…cynicism, apathy. This is the same side of me who always takes a stand, who fights for freedom and justice, and advocates for those who haven’t found their voice. It’s the side that believes in the inherent goodness of each person, and that love heals all wounds, and that “if we could only”…
But there is another side too. And she’s the one who brings me back to that song each and every time to remind me of what I’m forgetting. She’s the one who aches for stillness and peace, and whispers of acceptance (the radical kind). She’s the one who, from a higher vantage point, can remind me there is nothing that needs “fixing” in the first place.
“There is beauty in this. There is wonder and perfection. Love this and you will find it lovely.”
It’s hard to reconcile the Fighter and the Fixer in me with the peace-loving, mantra-singing, life-trusting Spirit I feel nudging. That Fighter-Fixer wants to try harder, correct mistakes, make changes, move furniture for goodness sakes…anything to keep the winds of control in her favor. She hates the thought of being blown around, of leaving things as crucial as joy to “chance”.
But it’s the other side of me that never shuts up. She doesn’t yell or insist. She just keeps reminding me that Trust and Control are at odds with one another; keeps reminding me that one leads to peace and the other violence; reminding me that trying to “fixing it” feels a lot like “fixing you”; reminding me that when I do let go it never feels scary or overwhelming – ever; reminding me of the wise words of a soul sister…that I’m hanging off the edge of a cliff, refusing to let go for fear of falling to my death but so wrapped up in my own gory images that I can’t see the ground is just two inches beneath my stretched out toes.
I walked through several more days with that heaviness, and that question in my heart of, “How do I let this go?” (And trying hard to release it. *sigh*)
How DO we let go?
How do we stop trying to fix, stop trying to do, and finally allow things to be and breathe?
I often say I only coach others so that I get to repeat the things I most need to remember.
One of those things is this question that has replaced the other:
What would it look like to stop trying so hard, and start trying softer instead?
THAT question turns things on its head for me. That’s a question I can almost answer.
It would look like turning my whole body to my teenager and listening to each and every word out of his mouth without trying to “fix” his emotions. It would look like turning off Facebook for awhile and filling my ears with music instead. It would look like shutting the computer for an afternoon, a day, a weekend and finding myself in the grass under the stars or curled up in the covers with a good book or in the bend of my husband arms at the theater.
It would look like deeper breaths. And shoulder that are hanging from my ears. And closed eyes. And the sound of my heartbeat instead of the sound of my thoughts.
It would look like permission to fail, and permission to start again, and permission to do what I really, truly, deeply wanted to do. Like dive into the Atlantic on a cold day, ignoring the looks of concern or is-she-crazy, and having a conversation with Mama Ocean.
When I ask myself that question, letting go begins to look easier…and softer. And doable.