September 26, 2012

Letting Go

In my processes as a writer, photographer, creator, tiny business owner, I seem to experience a whole lot of not getting anywhere. At least it feels like I can never get closer to where I think I want to be. Still I forge ahead. The creative work that I do is important to me in many ways not least of which is that I can convince myself that I am doing things that matter when waiting tables, for example, doesn't seem like meaningful work. I know there is much more to it than that, which is why I want to continue to do this work, to learn, to improve and to get closer to the creative life I want to live. Perhaps it is akin to hiking the PCT (I'm reading Wild right now) where each single step does move me in the right direction but the miles pass by so slowly I can barely see the progress I have made.

I realize that sometimes I cling to the constant pushing to do better and more so I can reach my dreams and goals and I forget to enjoy everything else that is happening around me. I know that if I only focus on reaching my big dreams I miss the opportunities, moments, and offerings of every day. I've been encouraged to let go and trust that my dreams will still be there to reach for, but trading the familiar hard work that I thought it would take for something easier and perhaps more joyful is actually very scary.

When I set out to let go, just a little bit, I was afraid that everything would fall apart and the slight progress that I have made would slip away like rocks down a mountainside. I have to learn, almost daily, that things will work out as they should and not in accordance with my personal agenda. Often things turn out better than I had imagined but to get there takes immense trust in something that seems so unknown. Giving myself just a little space to meander and not worry about accomplishments showed me a couple of things. First, I was reminded that as much as I care about my creative work nothing terrible is going to happen if I take some time away from it. Second I learned that in letting go of my plans, a little bit, I open up space for the beauty of every day.

Sometimes I think that reaching dreams is like running a marathon which requires training, hard work and complete dedication to the task. Other times I believe that it's like a fairytale and if I say just the right words, end up in the right place at the right time or find a fairy god mother I will get just what I want. Even though I'm not sure if I have the skills or the magic, I am trying hard to trust that I will get closer to where I want to be or, more likely, someplace different than I envisioned but still deeply satisfying.

I often worry that my blog meanders too much between various topics but I think of it always as a work in progress and some reflection of where I am right now. I am taking a class called Mondo Beyondo which has inspired much of my thinking here today. I wrote this mostly to try to articulate this process to myself but, as always, I welcome your thoughts.


  1. Hi Anna,

    I'm Gail, and I'm in the Mondo Beyondo class, too (and I live in Mpls - hi, neighbor! :).

    What you have written above is so beautifully articulated, and I can SO resonate with what you are saying! It is a real struggle for me to balance the need to want to see results with "letting go."

    Jack Kornfeld, a Buddhist scholar, once said to try "letting be" rather than "letting go." I think I get this: Letting go of something is just too extreme, and it somehow takes me out of the equation.

    Ultimately, I think it needs to be a marriage of: (1) my taking mindful action - even if they are baby-steps - every day toward my intended goals and dreams, and (b) letting be, trusting things are unfolding, and (most important for me because it's so hard!), allowing the Universe to help guide me in the "flow" of things.

    Thank you for your writing and your awesome blog, Anna!


  2. Gail,

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I like the idea of "letting be" that makes a lot of sense to me as though I am just setting something down out of the way for a bit and maybe I'll go back to it or maybe I'll forget about it and be able to let go of it eventually. I really appreciate your taking the time to read and share and I am glad to know that you are also working on this process.