The Ponder Effect | How good am I at letting go?
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How good am I at letting go?

Last week, we were pondering radical acceptance. This week, it’s relinquishment (which I wasn’t quite sure was even a word, if that tells you something). 

I have always been a collector. As a child, I collected feathers, gathering them from the hillsides and woods around our home. When I got a little older, I collected clocks, which I discovered is something of an ancestral trait. Then I collected crosses. I have hundreds of crosses–all sizes, materials and origins. For those who have been to dinner parties at my house, you know that I also collected wine glasses. The party trick was for guests to pick their favorite, which always gave me an intriguing little look into their personality.

Why this need to collect? We humans are meaning-seekers, and we find meaning in sacred artifacts. Because of where I found them or who gave them to me, because of what they symbolize, because of their inherent beauty, my artifacts — in collection — hold value for me. What do you collect? What holds value for you? 

There are other things we collect, too, besides artifacts. Memories, stories, resentments, scars. We ourselves become a very collection. In some ways, this being a collection — of genetic codes and lived experiences, of her and him, of past and yet to come — it is exquisitely beautiful. In other ways, it burdens us beyond comprehension. We yearn to let it all go. We yearn to be free of all of it. 

I was walking yesterday morning with the dogs. It was the ideal temperature, with a breeze. The sun had already illuminated a blue, blue sky. And I had this thought: Taking what is given, my instinct is to cling. I often tease my children that I want to push Pause on them, and I do, desperately. But this is entirely counterintuitive, because life continues to give. There is no need to cling. There is only need to be open. Making space for the next sacred now. 

Another pose from qigong came into mind. It is not dissimilar to the open palm stance that we pondered last week, the one that invites us to take what is given. In this pose, though, we bend our knees and scoop up water. Water is the most sacred artifact of all, and yet we know it will run through our fingers. Our only option is to let it be so, and scoop again.

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  • Anonymous

    May 7, 2020 at 10:56 pm

    I am struggling here to distinguish between radical acceptance and relinquishment. I thought last week I had let go. Radical acceptance meant I had let go of trying to control everything. To make it conform to my idea of what is best. Trusting there is a vision larger than mine.
    Maybe relinquishment is more personal. Letting go of having to have everyone like me, or think I’m smart or attractive or strong or fun or whatever. Letting go of being judgmental. But I don’t think those are what the Ponder question is asking. They are too mundane and simple.
    I don’t know how to Ponder on this question. I do know that my mother always said that if you loved someone you had to hold them in open palms, free to fly away. That trying to hold them in tight, closed hands would smother the very thing you wanted. That is relinquishment. Trusting they love you enough to stay.