THE ART OF LETTING GO

It’s difficult to master.

If you keep holding onto things because you believe that the past can recreate itself, you’re living a lie, my friend.

I had these pictures in my camera roll from the past few summers. Not too many details, but basically they were pictures of a boy and I. Dumb pictures, really. We were making silly faces and we’d been caught candid.

To any other individual these sorts of pictures would be the first to go when someone goes through and deletes unnecessary pictures from their camera roll (which I do often).

But for some reason, I couldn’t let go of these pictures. I knew that they were backed up somewhere in an obscure folder on my computer, but I enjoyed having easy access to them so that I could look back on them whenever I wanted.

These photos captured a mood, a feeling that I could not recreate. It was a time when emotions ran high and hormones surged confidently, when our lives overlapped just enough that we could appreciate each other’s presence. This is no longer the case. We are light years away from that point, and our lives are now so separate and far away.

I had convinced myself many times that the past was the past, and that I had moved on, but I never felt this statement to be completely true, as long as those pictures were still on my phone.

Everyone closes their eyes after a long day and just lies motionless on their backs, immersing themselves in a well-preserved memory, living out a daydream for a few minutes before returning to reality.

I used to do this, growing nostalgic after looking back at these points to the point that it hurt, willing my mind to transport me back to a time when life was (as I saw it) very good. It was unhealthy. I did it often enough that it got my hopes up, and for no good reason. I had no reason to place my faith in this boy – or any person, for that matter.

A few weeks ago, my phone started malfunctioning because I hadn’t updated it to the latest version, which required me to delete a bunch of my data off to allow room for the update. I had delayed doing this mainly because I was lazy, but partly because the pictures that were left on my phone were some of the essential pictures that I didn’t think I could bring myself to delete, the cream of the crop of the past few years.

It got to the point that my phone essentially stopped functioning, so I was forced to update it. I was forced to delete the pictures. And many others.

But tonight I thought about those pictures, and realized that deleting them was not terribly symbolic in any way. After all, I’d started college, met many more amazing people, and really felt like I finally put “the past” back on its rightful place on the shelf of time.

Deleting the photos was sort of like dusting my hands off after taking the trash out (not that this boy can be compared to trash – he’s a great person. We’re still sort of friends).

Eventually, we all have to let go of some hazardous things, even after holding onto them after so long. It hurts, but it doesn’t mean that you have to eliminate them from your memory. You merely have to change your relationship with these concepts. They have to become merely that, memories. And most importantly, you have to accept it.

Another anecdote. One of my former best friends gave me a scarf when I was a freshman in high school. I have no clue if this girl even remembers that she gave me this scarf, and it shouldn’t have been that big of a deal to me if I had worn scarves on a regular basis.

But I hated wearing scarves, and seldom wore one unless it was particularly windy. Everytime I did need a scarf, however, I always found myself reaching for the one she gifted me.

The thing is that I reached for it simply because it was a gloriously comfortable and fashionable scarf, not because it reminded me of her in any way. It was soft, cashmere, and colorful.

Thus, when I lost it sometime last week, after initially convincing myself that it was for the best, I found myself missing its cashmere comfort after a blizzard struck earlier in the week.

Finally, I think the same idea applies for regret.

REGRET is a word that has tainted my vocabulary frequently in the past few weeks.

I rarely conclude a reflection of the weekend with regret. I always agree with the decisions that I make, even if I wish that the situations played out a bit differently.

But over the years, I have come to regret many things. This overwhelming emotion returns to us in the dead of night and holds us back in many subsequent decisions that we make.

We shouldn’t let this feeling have so much control over us! We should just acknowledge it in our reflections and move on.

Easier said than done, I understand. But the first move begins with acknowledgement, right?


Have you been holding onto something for too long? Is it time to let go? Don’t let me tell you. 

You make the judgment call.

2 comments

  1. me

    I know the feeling. But I guess it’s better that way. I mean, graaping to a no longer existent part of life is bad, but forcing ourselves to get over the past isn’t exactly healthy either.

    Like

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