Holding On and Letting Go

Monday Author:  Susanne Skinner

I fight to hang on and I fight to let go. I suspect this is true for most of us, but it takes a pandemic and mandated isolation to bring it home. Covid-19 begs the question how much do we really need?

Life is a Balance of Holding On and Letting Go, RumiGetting in touch with what is essential is a deep dive. I’ve got nothing but time and a blank page where my blog should be. I am feeling bold enough to tackle this and offer some honest reflection.

Finding what matters is a topic I explored back in 2013. I’ve kicked the tip of this iceberg a few times, but the current situation merits a deeper examination.

My new favorite bourbon, a small batch offering called Jeffersons Ocean, is along for insight and inspiration. When the world says, “hold my beer,” it challenges us to figure out what we hold on to and what we let go.

Taking an Inward Journey

Toilet paper notwithstanding (who knew?), what do we need to be happy? We have different ways to answer to this question, but its core is the age-old distinction between want and need.

Justifying both is easy for me, but new truths present themselves when the ability to have both is suddenly restricted. Eight weeks of quarantine clarified this distinction.  I have what I need, and what I want changed radically.

I found a balanced place between want and need during and after a major move.  We mindfully evaluated what was essential to begin our downsized life in Florida and our new model was a good one.

Along came Coronavirus and that life stopped. I’ve known nothing like this in my lifetime, and admit to being woefully unprepared. My privileged life did not include an order to isolate myself at home. Flattening the curve required stores, government offices and restaurants to close. Standing appointments at beauty and nail salons, weekday breakfasts, cocktails on the beach and junking adventures came to an abrupt stop.

Restrictions and limitations are a compelling opportunity to re-evaluate their importance. I can’t do them, so I let them go. Instead, I am hyper-conscious of continued good health, human connections and regaining unrestricted access to the world outside my window.

Sometimes it takes a pandemic to redefine your value system.

What is Lost and What is Found

Lost and FoundI have what I need, along with new things to contemplate. There is an abundance of unclaimed time on my calendar. Work came to an abrupt end as—one by one—the remaining events in 2020 were canceled. My consulting contracts followed in quick succession. I essentially lost my job.

My first big revelation: I loved it, but…not missing it.

For the past 18 months, I’ve described my employment status as “part time,” “kind of retired,” and “keeping my hand in the game.” Covid-19 gave me two new options — unemployed or fully retired. Sometimes the Universe pushes us in the direction we need to go.

Turning what you cannot change into peace and contentment is the 2020 throw down. Being stuck at home offers me new ways to keep busy. I’m never short on projects, but I prefer to execute them on my own terms and timeframe. Letting go of that is my second big reveal. It wasn’t that hard, and maybe that’s because I didn’t get a vote.

I’ve temporarily lost my freedom. Like you, we’re in quarantine. I wear a mask when I leave the house, and we’ve developed Ninja disinfecting skills. I feel disconnected and anxious.

Holding On and Letting Go

Hold On, Letting GoI long for the time I can see my family, return to our worship community and sit with friends over a meal. The loss of human contact hurts all of us. I’ve found out how fulfilling it is to me and how much I took it for granted. The people in my life are the joy in my life.  Everything else is just decoration.

Until we have a vaccine against this virus, the thing I will hold on to is hope.

Hold On
Hold on to what is good
even if it is
a handful of earth.
Hold on to what you believe
even if it is
a tree which stands by itself.
Hold on to what you must do
even if it is
a long way from here.
Hold on to life even when
it is easier letting go.
Hold on to my hand even when
I have gone away from you.

~ Nancy Wood, 1974

A Moment of Gratitude

There is no one-size-fits-all for releasing what we can’t change. All we can do is control our own efforts, attitudes and reactions.

I Am GratefulMy letting go journey began with a Moment of Gratitude. This short Ted Talk film by cinematographer Louie Schwartzberg elevates the natural gifts of time and wonder.

Using time-lapse photography, Louie uses images of light and energy to see the beauty around us. He creates visual inspiration for what connects us and suggests gratitude as a starting point for each day.

Cultivating appreciation and gratitude make holding on and letting go paths we chose. It’s a response to how we spend our time and with whom we spend it. Beauty around us is an experience we might miss had we not been given endless days to discover it.

In the end, there is only this day. Hold on to it.

Tomorrow is another day.   ~ Scarlett O’Hara

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About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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