The meme that grabbed my attention this last week at first made me smile. The wise words weren’t from Einstein or a great leader or a well known author. In fact, they weren’t uttered by a real person at all, but rather by a fictional character that is decidedly non-human. The words have stayed with me though, and burrowed deep within my heart, generating ripples of thought.
The quote is “Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.”
And the being offering that sage advice is the ancient, green tinged Yoda, from the Star Wars universe. In the scene in which Yoda speaks these words, he is counseling young Anakin about the dangers of the Dark Side.
The conversation includes the warning, “Fear is the path to the dark side…”
Those words bring extra clarity, for me, about what Yoda is talking about.
My thoughts about Yoda’s wisdom are these:
I notice he says train yourself to let go, implying the act of letting go isn’t necessarily a natural, or easy, response. The verb train comes from the Latin “trahere”, meaning pull or draw. The early verb sense was ‘cause (a plant) to grow in a desired shape’ and it was the basis of ‘educate, instruct, teach.’ Yoda is telling his student to educate himself, grow himself, into one who can let go.
Because, the more natural tendency we have, when we fear losing something or someone, is to cling, and hold tightly. Clenching tenses up the body, clogs up energy, and directs attention negatively to fear.
And that is the key word here…fear. Yoda reiterates that it is fear that leads to the dark side. Fear that causes us to cling. Fear that closes down our world and obliterates the light, casting us into darkness.
Fear of loss can involve more than losing a loved one, or our own life. We can fear losing status, or a job, or income, or perceived love, or something we strongly identify with. Fear of loss can involve change, which is another level of fear in itself, and the belief that we will lose pieces of ourselves if we lose traditions, habits, beliefs, perceptions, fond memories, comfort or safety.
For me, fear of loss comes down to outcomes. I was afraid I would end up with an outcome I didn’t want, so I did my best to hold onto the way things were or to control what the outcome would be. Both only plunged me deeper into fear.
Training myself to let go of everything I feared to lose meant letting go of outcomes…letting go and opening up to curiosity and faith and trust. I learned to quit clinging. I learned to open my heart and quit protecting it. I learned to be okay with not knowing what was just around the river bend, as I entered the flow of life.
Letting go doesn’t mean I push people away or shun them. It doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy what I have and relationships and my grandchildren and digging in my garden. It means, I hold everything with open hands and an unafraid heart. It means the joy of loving is greater than the fear of losing. It means I don’t attempt to control people or events. It means, ultimately, that I can relax and appreciate all that is, in this precise moment.
Training…growing…is an ongoing journey. Learning to let go is a lesson that continues to pop up for me occasionally, and rather than react to it, I can lean into it and see where in my life I need to let something, or someone, go…where I am clinging instead of flowing.
Because, to the dark side I will not go. I am open to everything…and attached to nothing.