Today I have been thinking a lot about loss. I asked several of my friends for their thoughts on this subject and they had wise words of wisdom. Some let go slowly, others use tools, symbolism to get through the hard moments. Others reflect on the impermanence of life and still others observe how life is seen in extremes of good or bad instead of just as it is. I resonate with their wisdom and am grateful for their insights.
Loss is a tricky one. We think it is all bad and painful. And it sure can be just that. But it occurs to me that the more we are attached to something, the more we feel loss with the absence of it. There are the attachments to a grandparent or life long idea that that are based out of love. But then there are some attachments that are based out of needs, or perceived needs. If we are constantly in search of something, someone, some idea to make us happy, then when that thing goes away, so does our happiness. And then the idea of letting go seems horrendous and impossible.
It seems to me that there is the work of letting go that we all need to do, but also the work of observing what we are choosing to attach ourselves to and get to the depth of why. Only from the place of grounded wisdom in oneself can we deeply love another. Does that make letting go easier? No. But it does make it more real. We create our own suffering so easily. We suffer the loss of something, so desperately. And yes, it is hard to let go but it does make it easier when you can identify how much you are inflicting suffering on yourself because of the way you have set up your thinking.
I am a relatively independent person. And yet, unknowingly I have been looking, searching for a partner to make me happy. Yes, some of this is logical and logistical as a single parent of three kids. But the truth is, I am never going to find what I am looking for in another person. I could meet someone wonderful, but only from a place of contentment within myself, not from a place of neediness. This all seems so obvious and yet, I falter, I’m human. I search for the meaning of life in books with happiness in the title. I buy those new shoes because they are going to make me happy. I fall into the “it’s out there” mentality pushed by the media and our western society. Sometimes it isn’t until something brings us to our knees that we have to see with new eyes.
We all have times when we know we need to let something go. I have to let something go. Someone I love deeply, who is not the right one for me right now. I don’t want to and it breaks my heart into tiny little pieces. But it’s the right thing to do.
I also have to spend time remembering what brings me joy. This sounds great, but it is hard. It would be so much easier to go find a replacement person or distraction to make me (momentarily) happy. Why? I don’t really know, that’s just how it is set up in my brain right now. I know writing, painting, cooking, laughing with friends, etc bring me joy but I have forgotten for a moment because I put all of my expectations on someone else. It’s completely my own doing, this misery I sit in.
So now I get to figure out how to be happy just as I am, without all of the expectations I set up for myself. On a good day I remember that. On a weekend at home with sick kids, I sometimes forget. Life is about growing. It’s about messing up and remembering more and more, each time, how we come from the stars and as such are made of stardust. Stardust is not made of misery and attachment, it sparkles and radiates beauty. So do we.
I heard once,”Look within yourself for happiness, not in others.” And so I let go. I don’t know what else is out there, or really what to do next. But I know that happiness is not out there, it’s in here. And the path will become clear in perfect timing.