There is much written here and elsewhere about letting go, or what I am currently calling “releasing the struggle.” For too long I have understood these terms theoretically, only applying them on the meditation cushion or when some major life catastrophe occurs—divorce, job loss or illness, for example. Lately, however, I have begun to more easily cultivate a release of the minor, moment-to-moment struggles. This has changed my life.
What do these mundane relinquishments look like?
Here’s an example from my life this week.
With a particular outfit in mind, I go to my closet to get dressed for the workday. I soon realize, with some annoyance, that the grey slacks I intend to wear have a torn hem and that I really don’t have the appropriate red sweater to pull the whole thing together. Hmm. I look at the clock.
“Lots of time,” I think, “Why not stop at a favorite shop on my way to the office?”
Another voice in my head immediately objects about spending the money. Next comes the opposing thought, a justification: hadn’t I just received an unexpected check?
I decide on the plan and pull out my sewing kit to mend the pants. “What? No needle? I could swear I had one in here.”
Soon I am looking through the house for the emergency back-up sewing kit. I find it in my step-daughter’s bedroom. Sure enough, here are the needles. But what’s this? An empty package where the scissors had rested? Angrily I make a mental note to ask her to track them down. Meanwhile I am no closer to getting my pants hemmed, I have messes to clean up in three different rooms where I’ve been searching, and I have used up the time I had budgeted for the shopping expedition.
I go to Plan B: the brown skirt and black blouse, same shoes, hose and jewelry. I realize that this outfit is much more appropriate for the appointments I have during the afternoon. Everything is in perfect shape and I am dressed and ready to go within moments.
At this point I’m laughing. I realize I have just struggled away 45 minutes of my day. How similar that is to what I do on my zafu many dark mornings! I now clearly see that there was another choice: to notice that the slacks were not going to work and to just flow to the next outfit. What a tone that might have set for my day, far more important than grey or brown, slacks or skirt!
This is how life is. We can, in every moment, choose struggle or ease. This is what it means to let go.