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Posts Tagged ‘letting go’




After holding something tight for just minutes,
it takes ten more for the fist to unhold,
to let what it has been grasping
simply balance there in the palm.

I have heard the story of how they trap monkeys
by putting a treat through a hole just big enough
that the monkey’s hand can slip in, but
when clasped around the sweet,
cannot slip out.

I have been one of the rare monkeys
who knows that to be free, it must let go.
It takes time, but eventually the fingers unfurl
the way a leaf unfolds out of its bud—
not all at once, but in spurts, little jerks
of the knuckles, until at last the hand is open
and the fingers remember
what they can do besides clench,
besides clutch, besides clamp.

Today I wonder if the head might learn
what the hand knows, might to slacken and relax
to release a dream.
It never knew holding a dream
could become a problem—
it was a dream, for heaven’s sakes.
Something good. Something wonderful.
Something sweet.

When did the dream become a trap?
A tightening, a snare?
Oh dream, can I let you go
the way a hand might release a piece of paper?
Such a beautiful dream—
that those around me might truly be happy
if only I am good enough, if only I hang on.

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The swirling ash

doesn’t try

to be become

log again.

The flying leaves

don’t attempt

to return

to the tree.

The girl

can’t untwist

her genome

back into

separate strands.

The flour

in the bread

can’t return

to the sack,

can’t undo

the kneading

of hands.

In all things

lives a memory

of letting go

and the chance

to transform

into what

it can’t know.

What do you say

to that, heart?

Good self,

what do you say

to that?

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A pomegranate, tennis racket,

wide open lily—basically anything

can act as a Trojan horse to get

those old ideas close to me,

and dang, I’m confronted again

with all the ways I’ve let down

the world and all the ways

I could have, I should have

done better. How many times

have I tried to escape these thoughts?

I’ve run mountain races and

written thousands of pages

and wept a spring flood and

confessed and bled and still

they find a way back to me.

Sometimes they come knives drawn,

but more often they come

wearing fluffy robes and slippers,

making themselves at home.

I cornered one today, looked it

right in the eye. What? I said.

What do I have to do?

It shook its head and said,

All I ever wanted

was for you to say thank you.

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Lightly, lightly. It’s the best advice ever given to me.  

–Aldous Huxley, Island

Eventually I learn

that anything I would hold onto

will weigh me down—

sorrow, of course,

but even delight.

And there is no predicting

when the next step

will find me travelling

onto thin ice—

so I remind myself

each step, each breath,

each grasp, each hope,

go light, go light.

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            on seeing The Lovers by Pablo Picasso when I was sixteen

Perhaps because I was in love

I fell in love with The Lovers

fell in love with the way

the man held the woman from behind.

Fell in love with his red,

with her yellow and green.

Fell in love with his gaze,

with the tilt of her head.

I knew what it was like

to be that woman.

Even now, looking

at the painting in pixels,

not in oil on linen,

I feel it—the harmony

of the blue sky behind them,

a sky somehow boundless

inside of them, too.

Thirty years later,

I’m still charged with that blue.

And whatever it is

that forces the woman

to look beyond the frame,

I remember that, too.

It’s as if she can’t quite see

what’s about to happen,

so with one hand,

she holds on to her lover.

With the other, she reaches,

or is she holding herself?

And here’s what I grasp

that she doesn’t yet know—

how hard it will be, how hard

it will be to let go.

The Lovers by Pablo Picasso

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Though it’s July, the grass is iced

from last night’s frost, and the heart-shaped leaves

of the pole beans hang limp and dead.

And so the chance to practice letting go.

It’s too bad, of course,

but the stakes are low.

It was only one row,

a handful of seeds,

a hankering for fresh green beans.

Not a livelihood. Not a child.

Not a hope. Not a dream.

Just a small row of leaves

that do what leaves do.

No one to point a finger at.

No one to pick a fight with.

Just this practice of meeting  

the world as it is. This chance to start again—

the work of the living.

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Pushing Buttons

 

Doing something typically feels better than doing nothing.

—Ellen Langer, Harvard Psychologist quoted in “Illusion of Control: Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work,” CNN

 

 

The world is full of buttons

that do nothing—buttons

at crosswalks, in elevators,

in hotel rooms—buttons

that can be pushed, but in

fact have no functionality.

The Harvard psychologist

suggests that these buttons

serve a purpose: they help

people feel as if they have

some control: she says

it feels good to have

something to do.

 

We could, I suppose, make

buttons to press for these

careening days when we

realize just how little control

we have. Not over death.

Not over weather. Not

over anyone’s heart—not

even our own.

 

Or we could press

our own belly buttons—

a reminder there are

a few things we can do:

Write letters. Walk. Say

thank you. Practice peace.

Protest. Wear a raincoat.

Take Vitamin B.

And, of course, the most

difficult thing of all—

to say yes to not being in control,

to dance in that uncomfortable

place, laughing like a stream.

 

 

 

*

 

read the full article here: http://edition.cnn.com/style/article/placebo-buttons-design/index.html

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What wants to happen?

            —Joi Sharp

 

 

Today it is the tow truck

that leads me back to myself.

For though I call the driver

and though I receive

a text that says he is coming

and though I have paid

my AAA bill on time, the tow

truck does not arrive.

Though I did everything right.

Though the same actions have worked before.

Still the world has not turned out

the way I expected, the way

I want it to. The car

is still stranded. The tow truck

is still not here. Oh failure,

how clearly it shows my attachment

to outcome. How clearly it

shows me the world is in charge.

I look for more doors to knock on,

try to plan more ways to control.

Meanwhile, I am the door.

Meanwhile, this chance

to let go.

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The way the spruce tree

holds the wet snow—how

 

in a blizzard its branches

will bend and bend

 

and bend until they release—

that is the way I want to love you,

 

want to trust that I can hold

the weight of you as you fall,

 

as you continue to fall,

hold you until it seems I will break

 

and then, just when I’m sure

I can’t take any more,

 

release you back into yourself—

not in anger, not in fear,

 

not with guilt—release you

with green resilience

 

so that come the next storm

I am prepared

 

to catch you again, again,

and let you go.

 

 

 

 

 

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It took five days, but at last I thought of you, old friend,

friend I loved and wanted to trust, friend

 

who burned every bridge I tried to build between us,

who turned gratitude and apology to smoke, to ash,

 

who taught me that love is not enough—a lesson

I never wanted to learn, which is why I am grateful

 

you helped me to learn it.

No one gets through life without injury.

 

Still, I wanted to believe that a kiss and forgiveness

could make things better, but some things

 

are better left broken. Thank you for teaching me

that all passes, that even without a road, without

 

a bridge, without a track, the train of time

finds a way to keep moving, eventually

 

speeding by so fast that what seemed

unable to be overcome becomes a blur

 

and that hope gives way to something even

more beautiful: saying yes to what is real.

 

So though you will never know it, I forgive you

for your scissored words and sharpened

 

silences. I forgive you for giving up on love,

for saying no, goodbye. It takes almost no effort now.

 

Even uranium has a half-life—albeit 4.5 billion years.

How much sooner forgiveness has come. More like a lawn

 

that went unwatered and dried to brown, to dust,

but then when seasonal rains returned, turned green.

 

Yes, thriving and lush, here is the new lay of the land,

ready for anyone to arrive. Anyone. Even you.

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