What if courage is not just about being strong, but being strong enough to let go of the familiar? Think how powerful that would be. I mean, we all know how to let go the stuff we can’t stand anymore. The things we simply don’t want in our life anymore. But the familiar? No way. Good or bad, letting go of the familiar is hard. So hard in fact that we will do almost anything to just hold on, even when we know for sure that we should let go.
What we love, is the familiar.
Now I know you are thinking that this is where I tell you how and why we need to let go. That I do it with ease, and that you should too! I would go as far as to as to say that some of my favorite peeps are reading this right now nodding their heads and saying, ‘she is the master of letting go.’
But as you know, things are not always as they seem. In fact, quite the opposite is true and lately, as my universe turns my world onto a slight, yet constant tilt, I am confronted with just this topic and it makes me dizzy. Literally. It’s kind of ironic in a way, because I have episodes of situational vertigo. It is like it sounds, if the situation calls for it, my world literally begin to spin.
If you have never experienced vertigo, I can get you to the experience quite quickly. You are lying in bed asleep when suddenly your subconscious decides it is time to turn over. Yet as you do, the whole bed begins to spin, as if your bed has turned into a tilt a whirl ride. My reaction is to instantly sit up and pray for balance. Stability.
Sometimes, though, even when not experiencing vertigo, I feel that spinning sensation. This month it appears when I get in the car. I don’t know for sure if it is the radio constantly lulling songs about missing people, loving people or feelings of despair, or if it’s just the sheer quiet of the car and being alone…but every time I buckle up and hit the gas pedal, I begin to cry.
The more I cry, the more things spin.
I hear my mom’s voice echoing her fears as she talks about her cancer returning. Her disappointment about our belief that she had been the lucky one. The miracle. The one that had been cured from a cancer that has no cure. I can hear her fears, as mine join in quietly as well. That she doesn’t deserve this. That we don’t deserve this. My head spins again and I try to regroup. I need her in my life, I think to myself…and so she will have to fight and stay.
The spinning continues as I think of my boys, and graduation and it transforms into a dizzy spell.
Graduation. My oldest, now 21 reports that he will be graduating early. I don’t know why I don’t just feel proud, but instead ill prepared for him to graduate. He is in college. I know where he is and what he does. Sort of. We were supposed to have one more year to stay in that familiar place. And now what? Now we have to let go…earlier? What does that mean for what is next? It feels like I just got adjusted to him being several hours away, and now we must prepare for something different.
As I continue to cry, I see my 18-year-old. I see him as a toddler calling my name, yearning for my attention. I see him as a 13-year-old as he swaggers around me in a huddle with his friends. I see him now…as he declares his freedom and his need to be independent. I can see my hand reaching out for his…and he is not there. I try to remember if I knew the moment before his declaration of independence, that the day had arrived. I think and think, but can’t. My mind keeps spinning and my brain tries to gain control.
The car stops and I put it into park, feeling thankful for my short drive to work. The break under my foot reminds me of abruptly sitting up after a vertigo episode…panting, but feeling steady.
I see my moms face more clearly. Her beautiful eyes and sweet voice. I call to the universe to give her the courage to let go of the familiar (even of her hair), so as to have more life, more time, more love. I see my oldest and smile as I think about how he has created a powerful and inspirational life. Graduating early….from Cornell. I call to the universe to give me the strength to let go of who he is for me, so that he can become who he will be for others. And then I see my 18 year old and I am in awe that he is so sure he can do this on his own, even before it is time. That he has taken his lacrosse talent and turned it into a dream come true as he moves onto the D1 field. That he was relentless in his efforts and never strayed from his goal.
It is only when the seatbelt falls back to its’ original spot that I feel balanced again. Feeling grateful to have a mom who has a reason to fight for life and to have raised two children that are excited about the unfamiliar that life has to offer.
It is only then, when I am freed from my car, that I feel brave enough to let go of what I know . to walk courageously into what I do not know…with hope and inspiration of something even better.