There are many things that I have had to let go through my life.
I left an entire friendship circle behind when I emigrated from South Africa to the United Kingdom. I left a steady job, people that cared about me, a culture I understood – for what? Climbing on the plane, I didn’t even have a job lined up on the other side. I had ten days accommodation and £500.
Moving north, I left a city where everything was bright and temporary, for something less gaudy, but definitely more permanent. A husband, and later a family. A house that became a home, and the whole range of skills that I needed to acquire to fulfil those roles in a way that I deemed adequate. In London, it didn’t matter that I was different – everybody was, in one way or another. In the sleepy little village where I live, it matters a little more.
I let go of my dream to write a book when I went to university, because, two draft novels down, I knew that my work wasn’t good enough. Yes I lacked self-confidence, but I also was not stupid. Skill comes when you begin to realise that you’re not as good as you thought you were.
I let go of the PhD dream when the funding failed to materialise. This was a dream fuelled in part by other people’s expectations, and in part by pride. I wanted to show up all the naysayers through my life, all the bullies, and people that had laughed at me behind my back, and sometimes to my face. The worst kind of dream. It didn’t feel good to let it go, but it was the best thing I could have done.
I have let go of my definitions of success, and happiness, of rights and influence. I have let go of what I thought it was to be a wife, a mother, a friend, a writer, a homemaker, a cook, and just about every other role you could name.
Because I have learned that when you let go, sometimes what lands in your open hand is worth far more. Sometimes just having the open hand is freedom enough.
So as I let go of a few more things – jagged things, that cut into my hand and heart as they slide out of my life – I remember.
Sometimes letting go is the hardest thing, but it is also the wisest.