The year is letting go of itself. The last stragglers of summer’s party are wearily leaving, the exit music plays to fading applause. Nuts, leaves, fruits, berries, crops are all shed. “Go on,” the trees and hedges say, “have them, enjoy: they’re right for you. My work with them is done”.
When we let go of possessions we do longer need/can use to the charity shop or recycling centre, I feel that sense of “have them. My work with them is done”.
When we truly sacrifice something that we know someone needs more – the seat on the bus for the elderly lady even though we are tired, the flapjack that we bought ourselves as a treat that we know might be the homeless person’s only food today – our hearts again echo the trees’ “Go on, enjoy”.
When I let go of the some of the minutes that I check some social media sites, knowing my tendency to use them to procrastinate over pursuits that might stretch me creatively and intellectually, I’m more fulfilled by doing so.
The lessons of letting go came to me early this year, during summer. Part the reason that our garden currently resembles such a jungle is because I had to let it go to instead take care of my body through pregnancy tiredness and bad nausea, still taking care of my three-year old son.
Indeed, as this boy grows more into his ability to make choices and decisions of his own, I surrender some of mine. This week, as we made this shaker from dried kernels from last year’s again-unsuccessful sweetcorn plants (we’ve now let go of the hope to grow sweetcorn here: we just don’t have the space for the block planting that they need), I held my tongue when he requested a different colour of beads to what I thought would look most attractive. I held it again when he preferred the sound of several walnut shells in the jar and I thought that less sounded nicer. Such things challenge my inner control freak; I form an image (or see it on Pinterest!) of what something “should” be like. But I’m learning to let go of the rigidity in that “should” and let things flow – particularly to gift my son the space he needs to learn, to grow and to create.
When I recently undid a knitting project where the yarn just wasn’t right for the style of garment, I had to shelve a little pride – and resentment of the time I’d put in. Yet I revelled in that feeling of relief that comes when you relinquish the stress of trying to force something to work that isn’t. When those nuts, berries and apples just get too heavy for their branches.
A couple of years ago,we scavenged a beautiful wooden chest rom a kerbside. It needed TLC and restoration then… and now needs some more after being stored in our not-very-watertight bike shed. (Ironically, my husband hasn’t been able to store his bike there because of the space the chest took up). Time has prevented us (and will continue to do so) from giving it the repair it needs. It would make a beautiful coffee table with storage and rustic character besides, but the reality is that our home is too small and needs that floor space for the trainset-building, jigsaw-completing, rough-housing and other play that is necessary to our day-to-day family life.
Temptation had long whispered: “but it’s so beautiful! And it was free! Keep it! Keep it!”. Yet our hearts knew to let it go. Within hours of advertising it, a man with more time – and a rustic cottage without young children – had come for it, delighted and thankful. We felt a little sadness as his car drove off, the chest tied on top and our son waving goodbye to it, but our hearts were saying “Go on, have it, enjoy. It’s right for you. Our work – rescuing it from going in a skip 2 years ago, and storing it until an owner that will do it justice was scouring Freecycle – is done”.