I saw this saying on a refrigerator magnet two months ago, and I loved it. In hindsight, this was clearly a message from the universe that I had a little work to do surrounding the idea of attachment. There was a time in my life when I was working a little harder on trying to conquer my tendency to cling to the present as if it could last forever. I was reading a lot about Shambhala and Tibetan Buddhism back then – admittedly cliche, but I found it genuinely helpful. One of the main concepts is attachment and the pain it causes when we refuse to just let go and stay in the present moment without judgement. By attachment, I am not talking about emotional attachment to a person or being (although I suffer from that and it’s often related). I am referring to the spiritual attachment to an idea, like that of permanence. I experienced a lot of growth at that time and moved on to other life lessons. However, the older I get the more I notice that life’s progress is not linear, and there are certain lessons that I need to learn and relearn in new contexts continually. This is one. I think of it as tacking toward my goal. This month I have had multiple opportunities to relearn this lesson of “letting go”, and I thought I would share in case anyone finds the reminder helpful in their own lives.
Those of you who have been to my space know that I have a serious fondness for plants, and I have a ton of hanging baskets on my patio. Sometime in March, I noticed that two sparrows had built a nest in my favorite one, a luxuriously full angel wing begonia. Although I have always been a little afraid of birds, my anxiety surrounding this nest and the fate of my beloved plant was accompanied by curiosity and a sense of necessary surrender. The nest was expertly constructed, and even though it had been dug down into the soil, I realized that I could still carefully water the plant from the sides without causing an epic deluge inside the nest. (Can you see the little beak in the bottom left corner of the nest?!)
After a few weeks, I spotted a few eggs. I grew accustomed to my little friends singing in the morning as I watered the plants outside. Just a few days ago I began to hear different little chirps – the babies had hatched! The adult birds went back and forth endlessly, flying away and quickly bringing back insects for their waiting babies. One afternoon, I heard lots of commotion on the patio. I approached the screen door and stumbled upon the most delightful chaos: the babies were learning to fly for the first time, hopping from plant to plant, tumbling from the railing and catching themselves in a fluff of feathers as the parents flitted about supervising. I tried to get some videos but they simply didn’t do the scene justice. It was magical. The very next morning I awoke to an eery quiet, and I realized the birds were gone. I wasn’t ready! The patio felt so empty. I will admit that I sulked for a good portion of the morning (although I was excited to be able to water my plant fully for the first time in over a month). Eventually, however, I realized that I was stubbornly clinging to the illusion of permanence and indulging in my old trigger of abandonment. I had gotten very comfortable with these birds, but the truth is the cycle of their lives was not about me! They had given me a huge gift by allowing me the privilege of bearing witness to this moment in nature. Plant, animal and human lived in harmony for a moment until that moment was over. It didn’t need to be happy or sad. I saw that the only truth here was gratitude.
During the same week, two of my long-time regular clients told me that they were moving to different states. While I was happy for each of them, of course I felt the old hook of resistance. I had gotten very comfortable with the regularity of the schedule with both of them, and I had also grown to enjoy the very genuine energetic connection I had with them during our sessions. I felt a few tears surfacing after my final massage with both women. For those of you who are horrified at my lack of boundaries, believe me: I am aware of what the textbooks say about them. However, when a woman comes into my massage space, she is also in my home. When I do an outcall, I am in her home – so on some level there is already something more personal at play. I tend to attract the clients who want this type of situation. In addition to the physical and biomechanical work we do together, there is an inevitable exchange of energy which is often unspoken but exists. The trick is to allow it in during the massage time without expecting anything else beyond, but even so there is always a connection that develops after multiple sessions together. My point is: I felt sad! And …here I had yet another “growth opportunity”. The reframe was: gratitude at having been given these wonderful women in my life for such a long time. I learned a lot from each of them. I also felt confidence in that I had given them the tools, through body awareness and endless little tips, to befriend and care for their bodies on their own, with or without me. Finally, I saw the newly empty massage slots on my calendar as an open door for other women to come find me who might need my services!
Thank you for indulging me. I am aware that my personal challenges and philosophy about life are outside the scope of “massage therapy”, but I thought if just one person reading this is struggling with “letting go”, then it is worth the post! Plus, the spiritual illness that comes from “holding on” affects our bodies, on multiple levels. For those of you looking for “muscles and stuff”, I have you covered – this week I also posted a blog about the muscles of “letting go”, the sphincters.