As Kenny Rogers sang, in both poker and life “you need to know when to hold them; know when to fold them; know when to walk away; know when to run.” But, the hardest part of life is knowing when to fold, when to let go.
I am in a season of letting go. My 18-year-old daughter stepped on a plane for Europe to live with a family I have not met. My motherly instincts wanted to override my belief that she was on the right path, that this trip was the best thing for her. I wanted to hold on to her, but that would be holding her back.
As parents, we are always confronted with the tension between letting and protecting. When can they cross the street by themselves? Dating age? A driver’s license in a teenager’s hand is a nightmare for parents. But, the fact is, you have to let go for them to grow up.
You would think it would be easier to let go of the clothes at the back of my closet that have not seen the light of day for years. The problem is, we know the moment we let them go to a better home, the opportunity to wear them is just around the corner. If only I had that blue and white over-sized sweater to wear that I gave away last week my outfit would be perfect. You know how that goes. Yet, I really believe that if you don’t get rid of the old, new does not have a place to enter your life.
So, I am letting go.
I think the hardest thing to let go of is a dream. Dreams end with a pink slip, a lack of financial backing, divorce papers, the death of a loved one, with the words, “I am sorry, you have completely blown out your knee and you will never compete again.”. It is hard to let go of the life lived for so long in one’s mind. Some never do.
I had to let go of a dream this week. It wasn’t a big one nor was it a complete end of my world as I know it. It was big enough for me to feel pain and to sit up and take notice that small dreams die every day and it is not easy to let go of them. Everyday we get older and have to let go of who we were yesterday. Today, someone else got the job and you have to let go of the dream of being the V.P. of the company. You now realize that your kids don’t tell you everything anymore and you have to adjust to not being the center of their world.
How many of us have prayed that life would stay the same?
It cannot stay the same because life is about letting go and moving on. Life is about embracing potential and newness and opportunity, not holding on to what could have been.
The moment I let go, everything changed. Before, I saw only one chance. I have now discovered several pathways I could never see with the tunnel vision I had experienced. New ideas, people from common backgrounds, and possibilities have entered my life. It has been amazing.
I let go. I felt pain. I readjusted. I am renewed.
As for my daughter, I let her go and she walked right into a dream of her own.
And the blue and white sweater? I have a new comfy grey one that I love even more.