Thursday, November 19, 2009

The art of letting go

I don't know about you,  but I have an unfortunate tendency to fill my life up. I fill it up with stuff, with activity, with worry, with nothing. Nothing can be pretty time consuming. What I need is less of all of this. I need more white space. That's where creativity, healing and play happens most easily. I need to remember to schedule in more white space that I don't fill up with doingthedishes, watchingtv, frettingaboutsomething, otherthingsthatoccupybutdon'tnourish.

What's hard for me about creating white space, and maybe for you too, is that it requires me to do a couple of things.

1. I need to say "no" to things that might be fun or that I feel some obligation towards.
2. I need to let go of some projects, social engagement or other creative activities.

Both of these are a kind of letting go.

When I give myself more time to think, dream and play I can create more readily, feel and understand my emotions, move through my life with more integrity. These aren't new or original thoughts, but it's topical because I've decided to let NaNoWriMo go.

I've written about NaNoWriMo before; for those of who don't know, it's a month long writing adventure wherein you, and thousands of other people around the world, commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in one month. It is an excellent exercise in writing discipline and shitty first drafts. I've completed it twice and was really looking forward to this year.

But this year Brother Blue died when I was three days in, having written just over 5,000 words.

Some things are more important than others. I needed to take care of my chosen family and myself. I needed to learn how to navigate through all of the emotions I've been feeling. I'm still learning. I needed to take a lot of down time to just breath. I did not need to write an arbitrary 50,000 words.

It was really hard, realizing and accepting that I wasn't going to complete NaNoWriMo, even knowing that my reasons were excellent and I'm still writing other material. It's been a superb lesson in letting things go and has gotten me thinking about other things I can release.

Do I really need that stack of magazines I've not gotten to in months? Do I need to hold onto so much stuff?

Do I really need to worry about the inconsequential details? What happens if I ask for more help or delegate?

Is it so wrong to lovingly say, "No"?

What is left when I let go of this? and this? and that?

It's a good question. The art of letting go is one I find challenging, but I keep practicing. So I ask, what can you let go? What seems precious and essential but is really just standing in your way? How can you create white space in your life?

(c)2009 Laura S. Packer

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