Alright alright already…Letting Go

Sometimes the universe sends me messages. Sometimes it’s not very subtle. I find when something comes through for a third time, I finally get it. Just before March, a message came through 3 times within a 5 day period: Let go! First, I was attempting to write an essay for the Listen To Your Mother event this year in Austin. It’s a wonderful event and I would love to be a part. But I was struggling a little. On an emotional level, I was feeling blocked because last year I wrote an essay, was chosen for an audition, but didn’t make it into the show. While I was truly honored to even have been chosen for a reading, particularly after going to the show and hearing how great everyone’s essays were, there was some little part of me, and when I say little part I mean, like a little girl part of me that was very very sad she didn’t get chosen. So when it came to writing one again this year, I just couldn’t come up with anything. In addition, the deadline for the essay was Feb 29 and the screening event for Miss Representation that I had been planning for months was happening on March 1. Work has been wonderfully busy –  SO – bandwidth for writing sentimental yet humorous essays was not large, and evidently non-existent. But I did try. Two nights in a row, while my head bobbed in front of my computer, I continued to plunk words on the page..determined to write my way into two mothers’ hearts. I tried all kinds of meditative exercises to get me to a place of calm where I could block out my fear of rejection. I tried facing my fear and imagining the worst that could happen, which was not so bad – simply not to be chosen. I finally got out one essay. It wasn’t my best or nearly submit-able, but I thought it might be a start. When I had first saved the essay, I was about to title it, “letting go”, but it didn’t seem right.  I wasn’t sure if that was the right title for it or if that was coming to me because I was working so hard on letting go of my fear of rejection. So I named it ListenToYourMother2012, finished the essay, and went to bed slightly unfulfilled, knowing I had not knocked that one out of the park, but patting myself on the back for staying up (sort of) to do it.

The next day I was having lunch with a friend who is one of the most creative people in my life and a great inspiration on many levels. I posed the question to her, “how do I get over my fear of rejection so that I can actually write something? I know the fear is there…I think that’s what’s stopping me, but dealing with it rationally isn’t going to help,” I explained. Instead of going to some creative woo-woo spot, she went practical on me. “Maybe you just can’t do it right now – maybe you have too much going on.” “Yes, maybe.” Not really the answer I was looking for. You know your best friends because they are always pointing out the truth about things. The exact truth you were trying to avoid. We discussed my current schedule, my lack of sleep. I explained that I wrote something the night before, but I did it between head bobs and that it wasn’t great work. “What’s it about?” she asked. She had helped me prepare for my reading for LTYM the year before. I told her the opening line, which was “The longer I am a mother, the less I care” and that it was how, as the kids get older, I realize that many of the things I’ve been worrying about since they were born  – their diets, their sleep…it doesn’t matter as much as I thought it did. In the big picture of things, they are going to turn out to be whoever they are, no matter what. She sat for a second and let it sink in, nodding. “You should call it Letting Go”.  I was slightly stunned that she picked out the same name for it that I had hearing only the first line and the overall theme. I took that as the second “letting go”. While “Letting Go” might have been a somewhat obvious title, one of the reasons I chose not to go with it, it was still striking to have someone state back to me something that I had thought of for myself, but had passed over. It was like the universe picked it up off the floor and said, “here, you dropped this.” Thanks.

During this time, I had started to become a bit stressed, worrying if anyone was going to show up to the Miss Representation event and simply wanting everything to go off without a hitch. The added stress of this did not help my ability, or my inability, to write.I then had a singing lesson. I’ve been taking these lessons for a couple years now – on and off again – and all of the coaching is done over the phone. My coach is part singing coach part life coach and I get a lot out of every lesson, even if my voice doesn’t improve. During our half hour, we were talking about not holding back, not worrying about sounding perfect. At one stage she said, “OK, we have it! We have a theme for you for March…it’s Letting Go!” I took pause. And then I explained to her that that was very odd. “I am also a writer,” I said, ‘and just the other day I wrote an essay and I called it Letting Go. It was about parenting, but that’s exactly what I was calling it.” This was not exactly true, as I mentioned, I had named it ListenToYourMother2012, but when my friend had plucked the same “Letting Go” title out of nowhere, I had decided in my head that that is probably what it needed to be called. There was a thoughtful silence on the phone and she got a little emotional. She went from emphatic “Letting go!” to somber. She said that really moved her. Me too. I was a little stunned that for the third time the message was coming through and this time it was being shouted by someone I listen to very closely. Let Go!

Now, one could pretty easily argue that the sum of the whole religion of Buddhism could, perhaps, be summed up in those two words. Let go. Letting go. Letting go of concepts and beliefs. Letting go of Ego. The only way to be ‘one with the universe’ (though no one says this in Buddhism, BTW) is to let go of the notion that you are separate from it. So having the universe tell me to “let go” was not such a different message than I’ve gotten over the last 13 years as a Buddhist, but this was definitely the most direct. But let go of what, specifically? Let go of being a part of the show? Let go of the fear of not being a part of the show? Let go of my desire to always look good, which was holding me back in my singing and probably, I figured, in my writing? So perhaps it wasn’t a message about a specific event, but a general message about my way of being?

Either way…letting go. I’ve been trying it on. I ultimately decided to let go of LTYM. I was truly too tapped to pull that one off. I decided to submit the same essay as last year – it felt better than not attempting at all. The essay, “Letting Go,” I feel, has it’s time coming, but it’s not right now. The Miss Representation screening was great. Even with all of my passion for the issues that surround that film, I had forgotten how powerful it is. It felt really good to see how bringing it to 70 more people inspired others. 

I think the point is not to figure out exactly what I’m supposed to be letting go of, but to hold this sentiment with me and use it when it makes sense. After the screening, I was moderating a panel discussing raising children in the context of a media-frenzied world, and I did my fair share of fumbling on my words or asking questions that weren’t clear and having 3 panelists and a room full of people blankly staring at me. Letting go of worrying about looking bad was coming in pretty handy there, so I used it. My essay wasn’t chosen for the LTYM event, but I let go of that meaning anything at all and I really just look forward to attending again this year. I also recently got over one of my biggest fears and I did karaoke, first in a room full of friends, and then recently in a bar, in front of my husband. “Letting go” was necessary for both of those things to happen. I guess I’ll just keep my “letting go” theme in my pocket, like a lucky rabbit’s foot, sometimes just touching it as a reminder, and sometimes using it like a charm. And I’ll let go of needing to know what it’s for.