Raven Takes Flight: Daring to Let Go And See What Happens
It's almost exactly one year since the pandemic shut us down, and life isn't any easier. If anything, it's more complex, more lonely, more challenging. But, I am finding ways to cope...and so far the most kind, the most potent way is learning to let go.
Join me for a journey, friend...
There’s a difference between free fall jumping off a cliff, leaning backwards into the wind, wings spread to catch the air, and just dropping the cottony gauze wrapping your gaze.
Snow perpetually obscures the view, but the ceaseless drift is soothing, the challenge of watching an individual flake from cloud to ground, impossible. So there is no choice but to let go into the fluttering fluff, dazed, mesmerized, present to the shifting flow of flakes, stark against ancient maple trunk.
It’s like sitting beside a brook at the height of summer. Lazy days, feet dripping wetly splish splash, cooling water drops, calming burbly melody, water endlessly flowing, swirling, cascading, rushing, eddying, ebbing past branch-enforced narrows, sparrows flitting across the water, flycatchers dashing, darting faster than anticipation, everything releases into the water, and it flows in and through you till you are emptied out.
Recognizing in that moment of weariness that it’s up to you to be “re-wounded” by a traumatic event, or just move past it. Realizing you don’t have to take on the worry and pain, you can just be soft and present, your exhaustion not a mask for the pain, but just a literal fact: 3am is a terrible time to finally hit the hay. Yes, you still see the ceaseless iridescence of yellow-red, yellow-red, yellow-red hitting the icy road in front of you – forty minutes behind an ambulance at night will scar your nervous system if you let it.
The wait in the ER parking lot, cold, no blankets, no forethought of having to be stuck in the car, cozy home too far away to return to, pandemic limiting the allowance of entrance, no way to converse with the doctors, no way to console the anxious father, no way to help but wait, wait, wait. So, you wait. You can’t close your eyes because you are too cold, too anxious. So you knit. You watch the snow turn to ice. You listen to stories that distract and pass the time. You think about your daughter, you connect the dots that it’s very likely you were awoken 20 hours ago by her screaming because she suffers from a similar anxiety that likely is the reason your father wound up in the ER tonight.
Is this your fault, you wonder, again.
“It is not your fault,” a kind friend tells you.
You are angry on the 3am drive home. But mostly you are just zonked. It’s a long drive, it’s icy. The moon is full. You are awake, but nearly shaking with exhaustion. But you make it home. You let your dad out, you listen to make sure he finds his keys and closes the door behind him before you drive the twenty minutes back home. You sack out on the spare bed under a heap of blankets because you are too exhausted to deal with your three year old kick kick kicking all night.
And the next morning, bleary with not enough sleep, you notice that it’s up to you: be re-wounded by the worry and fear and inconvenience, or just let it go.
It’s not grandiose to let it go, you realize. It’s not a gesture of forgiveness. It’s just simple kindness to yourself!
And in that moment, a sweeping sensation of joyful energy burbles through your veins, and though you are physically exhausted, you are not emotionally deadened.
Yes, it still takes you days to recover your energy, but it’s not taking weeks, it’s not taking a toll that it does not warrant.
You realize, then, that you must find the same perspicuity with yourself regarding your children, your spouse.
So, instead of fighting for the vocal reassurances you crave from your spouse, you drop that fight and accept the warm hug. You see the love from those green eyes clearly, possibly for the first time in years.
It becomes unambiguous.
Your daughter is suffering and it is not your fault and maybe there is, after all, some salient creativity you can offer the situation.
So, you arise early enough to pre-empt her flail and you re-direct her to reading a book. You tuck her in, cozy and warm, give her everything she needs, which includes the reassurance that she’s special and gifted and warm and loved, and that she can take the space she needs to come into her body.
The brilliance to this equation is that you take the time of the early arising for your own self care, and by the time she’s entered your room, you have just finished your core exercises for the day, so you are awake and resourced and able to flex with her.
You hold her on your lap the way you haven’t done since she was half the size she is now, you let her snuggle in to your warmth, and then you let your mind open to what she might need, finding a way to inspire her instead of chastisingly direct her.
“If you can get your clothes on and brush your teeth, we’ll have enough time to work on our knitting together,” you say, and she says, “ooo” and jumps up to choose her clothes.
You wonder if it’s a bribe, if it’s something you have time to offer, and then you recognize that those thoughts are merely habitual doubts. You feel clean in yourself, redirecting her by guiding her to get ready so she can have the reward of special time with you is not manipulative, it’s boundary-full direction based on inspiration. Right?
Yes, the voices of doubt shall persist, but your lucidity of mind allows you to see them as the fluff they are.
The morning proceeds without the usual hitches of pain and disturbance. You remain calm. You have let go of needing much.
The space of your body feels strong, centered, calm, strengthened by the resource of your discipline in practice, and you can see then, the bubbling limpidity around certain tasks on your to-do list.
You breathe in, waiting for the tea water to boil.
Yet another opportunity to let go.
As you listen to the kettle crackling, you gush with realization that you don’t want to do all the busy-work to plan the actualization of your business vision.
It hits you in a rush. You feel how that burden has stooped your shoulders.
You notice the fresh energy, similar to that moment mere days ago when you let go of the emotional burden of your father’s health crisis.
You worry, though, that letting go of the business details will tank all the work you’ve done to build and grow.
But you recognize the need to unburden.
You confess to a friend who wanted to be involved with the project that you do not want to manage it. You divulge the weight, unbosom your guilt, relinquish the heavy load.
And in that moment of letting go, she shocks you, saying, “I was calling you to tell you that I am available and deeply interested in project managing this for you.”
You burst into tears! It’s unbelievable! You would never have asked. You didn’t even exactly know the help you needed, but here it is, offered to you on a silver platter, freely given.
The relief is so palpable, it shines on your cheeks. The celebratory knock of your heart against your suddenly empty chest makes you grin, unbidden. The full-body sensation of gratitude consumes your whole being in a tide of warm fire. It’s almost embarrassing to be seen to be so giddy. But your friend is kind and she laughs, happy to have bestowed this gift upon you.
You are letting go.
Each time now, you know, you can lean towards that which is burdening you, and ask: what do you need?
It is becoming clear to you that you will magnetize exactly that which you need, every time.
Power rushes into your whole being. Power construed from the essence of presence. A force arising as if from the earth, strength cascading through you, your inner vibrancy no longer masked, no longer basking in burden and misconstruance.
You are tasting your truest inheritance – the gift of presence which articulates innate abilities like perseverance and cutting through confusion, dynamic internal sovereignty over your own experience and resulting expressions.
It tastes like a breath of fresh air. Like putting down a heavy mug of hot tea so you can shake out your hands to cool them off. Like pulling out the wet bun that’s sat atop your head all day long and at the end of the day just wants to be shaken out and dried. Like pulling on a warm shawl to keep the cold at bay. Like tuning in to a random radio station and being surprised by the joy “Desparito” brings to you, and as you belt out the lyrics, your three-year-old is bedazzled by your unbidden joy.
“Don’t worry so much,” he said.
“You will find that which you seek,” the numerous strange wizards you have met have soothed you.
You can remember one of the first wizards, she was in the aisle next too you gazing at crystals behind glass at the magic store in Santa Cruz. She looked at you and said, “you are psychic, you know.” So you followed her out to the sidewalk where she gave you a “reading,” and she told you, “you will find the hardwood floors you seek,” and you knew what she meant and you knew that you would, and though it took you twenty years, you did, and your feet rest upon them now.
You look out the window, the snow is still falling, but it is smaller now, lighter. The raven has taken her favorite perch upon the tallest branch of the mother-tree in your yard, and you know that you can rest inside their minds and taste that bitter cold, that solid branch, those prickly toes, that feathered body. You know that you can leap off for any reason you choose, spread your wings and take flight into the sky.
You know, now, that all you need to do to let go, is just blink your eyes, and you set yourself free.