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“This is a gel Sir. And you’re not allowed to take more than 3.4 ozs of gel on board,” said the security officer as I avoided his gaze. I could feel the irritation rising up within me. After all, I had gone through several airport security checkpoints with said gel and had never been questioned. Now this bozo was “doing his job” and taking away my expensive hair gel.

“Then why was ….” I stopped myself. “Never mind,” I said and focused on his continuing rummage through my toiletries. He finished and told me I could go. As I repacked my things I was aware of the familiar tenseness in my body. That rigidity that comes from being angry or really irritated at some perceived injustice. Then I remembered a discussion I had with my friend Natalie only the night before.

We were discussing our reactions to things that go wrong when we’re in nature vs. when we’re among people (in man-made settings). We both acknowledged how angry we tend to get when another human being does something “stupid” or “irresponsible” like cut us off in traffic. Contrast that reaction to the reaction we have when something goes wrong in nature, particularly when it’s nature who is the perpetrator.

For example, you’re hiking up a trail and discover a landslide blocking your path. How do you react? Natalie and I both agreed that in that situation we just deal with it. Turn around, find another path etc. We do not get angry at the landslide.

I do not have a lot of experience camping but I know lots of campers, and I expect that their reaction to things that thwart their intentions in nature are markedly different from their reactions to things that thwart their intentions when they’re back in the city.

I prefer the nature reaction myself. Getting irritated, angry or otherwise upset solves nothing except ruin relationships and damage my health. In extreme situations people do physical harm to each other. And for what? A tube of hair gel? A raised eyebrow or middle finger?

In any given situation, or moment in time, people will do what they do. Their actions and responses are beyond your control. Just like a landslide occurring or the rain falling. When I think of it that way I realize it’s just as inappropriate to get upset with the guy that cuts me off in traffic as it is to get upset at the landslide. I just take the appropriate action to honor my original intent – get to work, or the top of a hill – and deal with the changing circumstance that is not directed at me personally.

And this last has really been interesting to observe in myself. When something interrupts my plans, my first reaction is to take it personally. I can no longer do what I want, go where I want, have what I want. After all it’s all about me isn’t it? 😉

I remembered this conversation as I walked away from the security checkpoint and took a deep breath. I could let my hair gel go, and acknowledge that this poor guy is doing his best to keep us all safe and his biggest challenge is less with terrorists and more with selfish assholes like me.

A little further I almost walked into a woman who had suddenly stopped to check for something in her bag. In a millisecond I felt the surge of irritation begin, and then I remembered the landslide. I smiled and let it go.

You heard me! It’s big, it’s round, it’s talked about, it’s yours. So learn to love it.

Would like to say this is a quote from “Embracing Your Big Fat Ass: An Owner’s Manual,” but I haven’t read it … yet. Actually I probably won’t but it is possible. While big fat asses are not high on my issues list, the book is well written and funny. How do I know that? Well, the authors (Laura Banks and Janette Barber) read excerpts to the biggest audience at a Barnes and Noble book signing short of a Harry Potter release. And they had the audience rolling.

I knew I was in for a good time when my good friend Donna Moore ,(the creative force behind the soon to be Broadway production Cougar), called me earlier in the day and asked me if I wanted to come and support her friend’s book signing and I asked what the book was about. Well the bellow of a laugh I let loose when she told me the title made everyone in the crowded noisy Starbucks stop and look.

Now the obvious question is why would I, a confirmed legs man, be writing about Big Fat Asses or BFAs as the authors refer to them. And what does this topic have to do with living your life as a practice?

The answer: Everything!

At the book signing a lady with a BFA (actually she was behind me I couldn’t see), asked the authors if they had gotten any flack for the book. They replied that they had. Some people are offended by the title, and some expressed concern that the book encourages women to be fat. Their response to this second concern is what made me see the connection to the practice of your life.

Janette and Laura said that the book is about playfully accepting your body as it is, which is the necessary first step to transformation or allowing your body to become any slimmer version than it now is. Not their exact words but essentially what they meant (that’s what the comments below are for ladies).

I couldn’t agree more. So many men and women go around resisting what is, that they keep it in place. There is no space for what they say they want to show up because they are busy resisting the crap job/body/relationship that’s there now.

Transformation/law of attraction 101: Stop resisting what is. All resistance does is keep what you don’t want in place.

Embracing Your Big Fat Ass shows women how to be comfortable with the way they are in a very humorous way. This is an important message because the funny thing about things that are not accepted/acknowledged is that they keep showing up until they are. Even if it takes the rest of your life.

By the way if you want to see why Osama and the boys hate our freedoms, check this out. This kind of self-expression just has to be stopped. 😉

I’m a big fan of the movie Crash because it did an excellent job of illustrating this point:the greatest good and the greatest evil lies within us all. What got me writing about it now is a couple that I know that is going through a rocky period. I’m not going to describe details … suffice to say that it has a very familiar story line and it got me thinking of a common relationship story. They mostly follow a set path: excitement, everything fits/works, you have so much in common, you look at stuff the same way, until one day …. something happens and it’s clear that this person is not who you thought they were. How could that be? How could you have been so mistaken?

I think for many people it doesn’t feel like they made a mistake. Rather it’s more like they feel they were lied to. This person was pretending to be something they were not, and now the real person has come out now that they feel confident that they don’t have to pretend anymore. Betrayal not incompetence is what occurs for many people.

This relates to a concept of truth that I wrote about on May 12th, which says that truth is a much bigger thing than we’ve been led to believe, and many things that appear to be at odds (one true and one false) may in fact not be. They may both be true. We’re taught to believe that something either is one way or not, and while this is often the case in Newtonian physics, it does not hold for the multidimensional phenomenon of human beings. We’re all of it.

So yes, this person you’re in a relationship is behaving differently, and now you’re seeing some parts of him/her that you never saw before and you don’t like. You could look at this as betrayal, as if this person was waiting till they “had” you to reveal themselves, or you could see this as just a part of being human. Your suave debonair CEO husband is also the uncouth beer drinking poker playing, baseball hat wearing dude on Thursday nights with his buddies.

Can you think of any “contradictions” in you? Do they cause you anguish? And it’s not as black and white as “Oh my God, I say I’m a good Christian/Moslem etc. and yet I (fill in blank).” I’m not pointing you being either this or that, good or bad, right or wrong. I’m pointing to where you are both. You do good things AND you do bad things. What does that say about you? Are you a good person or a bad person? Which is it. It can’t be both. Or can it? Watch the movie Crash. It deserved the Oscar.

I am a big proponent of “letting go,” as an essential practice in living my life (as a practice). That’s a very challenging thing to do when you grow up in a world that teaches you that there are people who are bad and wrong, and where there is no distinction between the behavior and the person exhibiting the behavior.

Do a bad thing? Then you’re a bad person.

One example of “letting go” vs. “getting even” that comes to mind is of a person I contracted with for considerable expense (at least for me) to do a job. I paid all of the money (not smart in hindsight) even with the job not completed, and from the moment the last payment was received the level of service dropped and dropped till it had come to a virtual standstill in visible progress.

Communication became unreliable and infrequent to the point where I could no longer manage the project which for me at the time represented my livelihood. To this person it was just one of several projects and one which was no longer producing revenue.

This left me with all of the expected feelings like betrayal, getting even, revenge, fear etc. and I realized that I get to choose. I get to choose how I respond to any given situation. Respond as distinct from react.

So I guided my thinking as follows:

I have limited time and money. I can choose to spend it going after this person (there is a contract), or I can document the learnings and move on. There is a lot I have learned from this experience, plus it’s possible I can still build from what I have so far.

I chose the latter, yet for a while I kept having these feelings of wrong, hurt, injustice (it’s not fair), and even thoughts of getting even.

Guess who was suffering with those feelings? They were eating me up inside, and preventing me from fulfilling on my objective. This person had become a distraction. So what there was for me to do was forgive and move on.

Yes forgive the person. You might ask why, and many people might argue that this rewards this behavior and increases the chances the person would “screw” someone else.

Well first of all I don’t believe this person habitually is going around “screwing” clients, just that they were out of integrity with their obligations to me. However, even if I was an isolated case of them reneging on their commitments, my being “special” only served to make my feelings of being treated unfairly worse. This leads to why I forgave. I did so for two reasons:

First, I forgive the person for me, not for or because of anyone else. Carrying feelings of injustice and hate costs me energy. It eats me up inside and diverts my time.

Second it’s an exercise in compassion. It comes from a way of looking at the world and at people. With few exceptions, no one acts from any inherent badness or goodness, but out of the conversations they have inherited from their surroundings, and/or from the conversations they are cultivating consciously. Most people only operate from the former.

This person was operating consistently with an unconsciously developed code of ethics. No judgment of good or bad, just different from mine and doesn’t work for me. So the consequence to the person is exclusion from my networks of help, not as a punishment or a threat, simply a consequence. I will never use or recommend their services.

I get freedom to learn and move on completely unencumbered by this experience and this person gets to focus on what’s important to them without being distracted by an obligation that perhaps they no longer knew how to manage.