How often do you Hold-on when you could Let-go
The question brings to mind a day several years ago in mid summer. My oldest son, who was about 10yrs old at the time, wanted to go on a ride at play-land. He was appropriately frightened as he watched the contraption move wildly in the air. He turned to me for support and asked him to accompany him. The ride was of no attraction to me, but leveling my eyes on his burning gaze, I gave in and walked unto the ride with him to be (in my mind) his support. Once the ride began, I realized that I was not even in a position to support myself. I was holding on for dear life, and I’m sure my breathing stopped while my heart beat escalated close to heart-attack zone. I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth. It was a ride to hell for me, and my (then) husband who stood watching with the younger children below shared later that the look on my face told him everything. I knew I had made a mistake coming on the ride. Once the ride slowed and stopped, to my horror I realized that it was only half way through its torturous experience. It now had to repeat the cycle in the opposite direction. I glanced briefly at my 10yr old son and realized that his experience was quite similar to mine. He silently but stoically endured the event with a pain-stricken look on his face. After an endless amount of time, we both walked off the ride at its conclusion with a dazed and gloomy look on our face. How could so many others enjoy this ride, we thought? We actually both felt like failures in that moment.
Later that day, and after some discussion, we decided to try the ride again. This time, we decided to let-go of our screams as we moved through the air, rather then holding on to our emotions with silence. This was a new experience for me because I was a silent “emoter”. I learned early to cry on my own in silence, I rarely raged, but instead swallowed my anger until I could manage myself enough to speak rationally, and I rarely laughed uncontrollably in that delicious and delirious manner that I had witnessed with others. So as I walked on to the ride once more, my son and I agreed to “scream our heads-off”. Before the ride even escalated into a decent speed, I started to practice (so remote to me was this concept of letting-go), and my son grinning widely, also took the cue to begin screaming. Soon our screams emerged and became blended with the many who surrounded us, and we realized in an instant why the ride was so popular. As we screamed, we felt exhilaration. In letting our terror OUT, we were all of a sudden aware of the cool air that tussled our hair and brushed across our cheeks. We noticed the view of the miles of people and music and lights that surrounded us. And even more, when we looked at each other, being deliriously silly, we felt power and love, not only for each other, but for the experience. All this occurred because we decided, in unison to “let-go” instead of “holding-on”.
Many times since, I have considered that day; the experience of giving both my son and I the permission to let-go through screaming. My son has gone on to experience many scary rides since that day. I on the other hand choose other activities to fill my time. I still have to remind myself to “let go” though, and when I do I can tangibly feel the relaxation softly enter my body while my breath becomes deep and loving. I wish I didn’t have to continually remind myself – that I could have learned the lesson that day as my son so obviously did. And yet, I know I eventually do get to the state of letting-go, so being hard on myself isn’t really useful is it? I guess I’m going to have to let that go too!