In my blog post the wanderer – or the art of letting go, I wrote about letting go of burdens we carry around. Today I want to write about a different form of letting go. About letting go of people. And not letting go of people who are doing us no good and therefore also are a burden, but of letting go of people who are important to us. This may sound paradoxical, because why should we let go of people who are good and important to us? And yet there are plenty of situations in life that require of us to learn to let go of those people.
I am sure you know that feeling… Life changes, you change, or – more difficult to accept – the “others” change? And suddenly your relationships change, friends move away (or on), and you stay behind and have to learn to deal with it. Friends change, make new friends, or are busy with work and family life and there is (too) little time left for you ? Perhaps you are the one who is leaving. And even though you try to keep in touch with your friends, relationships change and sometimes, somehow get lost in the process. Some people find it easy to keep in touch even from afar, for others this is almost impossible. And then, the only thing left to do is letting go.
I was confronted with this phenomenon quite often in my childhood . I went to a French school in Germany, which means that many of my classmates were only temporarily in Germany, as long as the occupation of their parents required it. Most of them stayed for 3 or 6 years before moving on to the next country. And every year new children arrived. I hereby came in contact early in life with a lot of very different people who lived a somewhat nomadic life. This probably also contributed to nourishing my own passion for travel. But more than that, it meant that many of my friends were only temporarily in my immediate vicinity. I had to learn to let friends go and try to keep in touch from a distance (and this was long before Skype and Whatsapp). And also wondering over and over again, how much I am willing to get involved with someone when I know beforehand that our time is limited.
Currently I experience a very similar phenomenon in my everyday life. I have been living for more than half a year on a tropical island and discovered that this is a perpetual exercise in letting go. In letting go of people who come into my life for a short period of time. People who are on the island for a few days or weeks. People who after years on the island decide to leave. People who sit next to me on the yoga mat, go diving with me, people with whom I spend time talking, eating, laughing. People who I grew found of and have now to let go.
Of course, many encounters remain superficial, but sometimes it is precisely those same circumstances that lead to deep and touching conversations and meetings. And then, again: you have to let go. Let the other move on. Maybe stay in touch, and maybe meet again one day. But first of all: let go. Enjoy the (sometimes brief) moments spent together. And realize that an encounter is not worth less because it is of short duration. And even if we will never meet again, I will keep that encounter, that look, conversation, touch, in my memory and my heart. It has enriched me. And even if letting go is not always easy, the joy of these encounters dominates. And so I practice it every day: To let go. With each exhale anew…