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Posts Tagged ‘letting go’




I wish you the peace of sleep,
your breath a canoe
that carries you
toward the next moment
without any need
for you to touch the oars.
How easily you arrive.

Oh, to trust the world like that—
trust you will be carried,
not just in sleep,
but in waking dreams,
trust no matter how high the waves,
the skiff of grace
has a seat for you.
And oh, to let go of the oars—
there is no steering
toward what comes next.

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not reading the book
on letting go—
she opens her hand

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Porous

with thanks to Joi Sharp


Yesterday I widened to hold it all—
made room in the heart
for every pain, every joy,
a vase infinitely large
to hold an infinite bouquet of feelings

Today, all it took
was two beautiful questions—
Why do you think you must
hold it all? What if you let
it all pass through?

In that moment,
the vase didn’t shatter,
it simply disappeared
and the infinite feelings
I’d been stretching to hold
I felt them, I felt them all,
then felt them move through me
the way water runs
through a colander, the way
oxygen moves through
the thin walls of alveoli,
the way sand moves through
the center of the hourglass.

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Teach me
to trust
the hope
that blooms
inside
the loss,
the love
that’s at
the heart
of fear—
teach me
to molt,
to slough,
to shed,
to doff,
to meet
the first light
and then
let even that
go.

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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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