freedom and letting go
This is a picture taken one year ago. It is of snow in the high elevation desert. Many people in the northeast region of the US are likely tired of so much snow and very cold temperatures right about now.
This past month of December we had snow on the ground here in northern Nevada. There is a rock pile of andesite (small) boulders in our backyard. When it snows, this rock pile looks like a snow-covered mountain range in miniature rising from the flat ground with dark peaks jutting up through the blanket of snow.
Now, to our essay of sundry thoughts.
The man who tried to outrun his shadow, only needed to sit down in the shade to be free of it.
This is an old Asian saying that is apropos here.
We are burdened by past hurts, and by the memories of past failures and mistakes and their lasting effects or consequences (some times tragic in scale and duration).
We desire freedom – freedom from pain and hurt . . . and from resentment . . . and shame . . . and guilt . . . and regrets. The absence of these may not make us happy but will at least permit us to be less miserable as we seek happiness.
As others wiser than I have remarked, freedom requires us to let go of past hurts, and negative limiting attitudes. You have heard this when you heard that “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself”. (Do not let the one(s) who injured you in the past deprive you of a wholesome present and future. Do not let a past wrong continue to detract from your life.)
What is past is past (or should we say “passed”? – meaning behind us as we have moved beyond it).
It is curious about us humans (and I am no exception here) that we cling to past hurts and frustrations and regrets. There may be a need for penance so to speak on your part when you have hurt others, but after making amends and restitution, there is no virtue in continuing to punish yourself. Learn from your mistakes or sins. And, learn to forgive yourself as well as to forgive others. Be aware that no amount of regret – now and in the future – can undo what was done to you, or by you, in the past. What is done is done and cannot be undone.
The constraints of the human condition oppress us each and every day in one form or another. (The nagging flesh truly is a drag on our spirits, more so when we are in poor health or are slowly feeling weaker as we age. Oh, to be young and in vibrant health and strength and vigor again! – we may think. We must remember that we are not these bodies, we are spirit souls.) One of the most difficult of human constraints to come to terms with is that of our own imperfection(s). We will make mistakes. (This requires maturity of us.) Those who claim not to have made mistakes in their lives are lying to themselves and thus to others.
Let go of past frustrations, past disappointments. Let go of limiting mental attitudes. Recognize that not all the attitudes you picked up when your were young from your parents, siblings, friends, etc. were constructive or helpful. Work to over come bad habits and addictions. Release the hold that bad, painful memories have on your mind! Free yourselves of these negatives. Becoming free is a process of letting go.
Do not cling to that which does not serve you in a constructive, positive way.
Why do this?
So as to have a better present and future for yourself and for those who interact with you. You cannot change the past. Accept that fact. No, one will not experience a perfect life going forward by letting go of past hurts and failures. But, if you can discard the negatives from the past that have burdened you, you can be less miserable now. You can be more aware of and open to the good things in the present moment. You can, in time, grow to be more loving and attain some happiness. In effect, you can be more fully alive.
One may feel that he or she is of very little worth. (Obsessing on past mistakes can do this.) He/she may feel that they possess little to contribute to the world, that they cannot do much good for others or for themselves. But, consider: Even limited or partial ability can do some good. A small amount of talent is still some talent. A damaged but still functioning cart can carry you some distance towards your goal. The water jug that is only half full will still take care of your thirst for a while, and then you may find more water, in abundance. (When something is broken – it need not be a total loss – one can try to salvage some of the parts that may be of use or of value in the future.) Our point here is that you do have something to contribute. Do not doubt this. At the very least, you have the capacity to love.
This is a challenge and requires much conscious, ongoing effort. Yet, freedom is a state of mind that even abusive, power hungry, despotic governments across the globe cannot take away from those who have it.
If they were to come for me and drag me off to a re-education camp or a detention center in a remote, barren land, as I peered through the barbed wire from the inside, I would still be free in my mind. They have no power over my mind, despite being able to do ugly things to my body. I will not yield to others power over my mind.
Here are some other relevant thoughts we offer now.
We are not talking here about living a licentious life. True freedom involves, requires taking responsibility for one’s life and actions.
It is a difficult challenge, at times, to feel compassion for those around us who give no evidence of having any compassion themselves. Take the initiative and be an example to them. This does not reach every such person, but you can reach some individuals and help them to see the value of compassion.
Do what is right – even when it is not popular.
Life is not a popularity contest. Do not base your self-worth, or self-esteem on the approval of others (including family members). If you do – you will not be free to be yourself – you will be acting to win approval.
Be aware that there are risks in loving. There is no guarantee that you will be loved in return.
One last thought. Recognize that ultimately there is no guarantee that any one will look after your best interests. Sorry to say, even well meaning friends or relatives may not be able or willing to do this. You can only count on and trust yourself to do that.
Thanks for reading.