Letting Go and Having Hope

Letting go is not a one-size-fits-all concept. Most of us have a bit of trouble letting go but to some of us, letting go is overwhelmingly hard.

Why? What causes it to be so hard that it becomes, effectively, self-harm?

When too many things are kept – multiples of things, broken things, bits of things, things that don’t fit in the house or on the body, ‘re-usable things’ – it is destructive rather than useful.

Clinging on to the past so much that there is little room for thoughts of the future, or the now, can be detrimental too. Reliving our experiences more frequently than we live new ones is shackling, prevents freedom and the ability to move forward.

Relationships from the past can leave us wallowing in sentimentality, pity, regret, grief, or delusion.

When we have so much difficulty letting go of things, it is likely there has been some deprivation and trauma, like a catastrophe, or an upbringing influenced by restriction or poverty, or a lifetime of hardship. But I suspect there is more to it.

Hanging on to things can be rationalised. There can be reasons like a dislike of waste, a perceived time in the future available for restoration or creative work, the possibility of needing that thing or document from twenty years ago. Perhaps having it will protect us from harm.

So, is clinging to things a hope for a better future, or is it a fear of a worse one? Looking forward with thoughts of possibility or with thoughts of danger – or a mingling of both?

Is clinging to the past also a dichotomy? Family connection, tradition, respect for ancestors, sentimentality associated with raising children or growing up with grandparents, add value and humanity to our lives. But remembering the past too much can be debilitating. If it prevents us from participating in the now and a progressive future, then it takes away from our current lives.

Wallowing in the past can lead us to floundering in the now, in a state of mundane survival and lack of joy, ‘Groundhog Day.’

So, if non-letting go can lead to a lack of joy, can it also lead to loneliness and eventually, lack of hope? I fear it can.

All of us need hope. A lot or a little, life would be unbearable without it.

Love gives us hope. Love from others, love for others, but mostly love for ourselves. We are powerless if we don’t like ourselves. Liking ourselves comes from within, not without. Surely the first step is letting go of whatever it is that has made us lose our natural affinity with ourselves.

It may be all that is needed is someone to direct us away from clinging on to the wrong things – the junk stored like treasure, the repetitive behaviour and continuous replay of experiences – and lead us to a new path, show us they care, love us, encourage us to take a chance and see a future of possibility.

It may take someone to say, You are fine, you are enough. But that needs to be believed. And the belief can only come from ourselves. If non-letting go is stopping us from having joy, is causing our life to falter, is taking away our hope, then it is a violation; it is self-harm and needs to go!

To have hope is to like ourselves and want to live; it is to have faith that we are enough, that we can look after ourselves, that we are a human with as much worth as another. Letting go and having hope are a team that can allow us to go forward in the world and do whatever it is that gives us joy. Hope is a state of mind and where it takes us, is up to us.

Let in hope, always.

 

An Appeal from Hope

Please don’t forget me

When you need me the most

When you’re down on the ground

And pale as a ghost

 

Please don’t forget me

When I come to call

In the shape of your loved ones

Who can cushion the fall

 

Please don’t forget me

When my wish for you

Is to soar like a kestrel

With a hill and sea view

 

Be not like the bowerbird

Piling high mankind’s waste

There is hope for a future

With a more natural taste

 

Let it go, give it up, girl

Be rid and be free

Give up comfort for courage

And find where you’ll be

 

I know you’re not greedy

You only hate waste

You’ve got the idea

To transform in no haste

 

But this is the story

You’re in reverse gear

You’ve forgotten that hope is

To create with no fear

 

Please don’t forget me

I am hope and I’m here

Let your life be a river

Take a chance and I’ll steer

 

If you let it, the river

Will carve out the stone

That has built up around you

And keeps you alone

 

Once the layers are shed

And your core is released

The truth that is you

Will be much more at peace

 

So please don’t forget me

Without hope, all is lost

I’m always here waiting

No matter the cost

 

Make me your partner

Wherever you go

Let’s go on a journey

See what you can sow

 

I am hope and I’m with you

At all times of day

Go soar like the kestrel

And let me please stay

Written by Carla Simmons

Extreme Start to 2020

I was in India when the bushfires were ravaging Australia. Even in an ashram in a tiny village in Rajasthan, news reached me that the coastal town of Sussex Inlet, where my beloved river house sits, was in danger. Fires were out of control throughout the South Coast of NSW devastating bushland, National Parks, and towns.

Over December and January, at least thirty-four people and a billion animals died; 186 square kilometres of tree-covered land including 5900 buildings, were destroyed; people lost possessions and livelihoods; wildlife lost their food.

It’s depressing to think that some things won’t recover. The fires were too vast and hot. That which will recover, will take a long time.

But feeling depressed doesn’t help. There’s too much to do.

People are rallying to help. Communities are growing and bonding over the effort. Solutions are germinating, just as plants will.

Ironically, I was in the ashram to talk creatively about the environment. Despite the huge environmental problems in India, it is a place of such spiritual energy at its core, it’s inevitable that seeds of recovery are sprouting there.

The ashram was the location of a conference-like festival called Utasava Maa, ‘a transformative all female festival, uniting extraordinary women from across the globe to share, inspire and collaborate in response to the ongoing international repression and violation of the earth and her daughters.’

Women, the traditional carers and protectors of the communal environment, joined heads and hearts to create ideas about change, starting with ourselves and the most basic of local levels.

Like many of the other Western women, I was attracted to the festival by the passionate motivator, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love and Big Magic. This woman’s capacity to inspire and rejuvenate others is at goddess-level. To be in her company, and of others like her, for nine days in a soul-stirring environment, was life-changing.

On the eve of the end of 2019, Western and Indian women danced together. It was barefoot and free. We sat around the campfire wrapped in thick, woollen shawls, and listened to the guitar and the tabla, and the voices of those who sang or had something to say. We wrote things on paper, things we wanted to let go of, and burned them in the flames. We said goodbye to unhelpful things. It was a ritual that closed off the past and wiped the slate clean for the future. It was cleansing and uplifting.

Except, at home, the fires burned. The contrast was poignant.

I’m concluding that getting back to the ancient ways is a good place to start restoring health. But I’m not going to turn this Post into an opinion piece.

Despite the euphoria I felt at midnight on the other side of the world, reality is problematic. Since I’ve been home in Australia, the positivity I felt coming into the year, has been attacked several times.

Issues that lay dormant over the Christmas/summer holidays, have seeped through the cracks and emerged, persistent. Normal life is uncomfortable. It’s bills and emails, shopping and cleaning, responsibilities and duties.

Reality has a way of slapping you in the face if you get too carried away with dreams. A very dear friend, a passionate, loving, shining light of a woman, lost her struggle with cancer and died last week. Her light has gone out and she didn’t want it to. She had life to live.

It’s important that we live knowing that time isn’t endless. Not only is our time here on earth restricted, but it can be extinguished way before we’re ready.

My point is, that we should use each day well. Be positive and step forward. Do the things that you plan to do, despite the difficulties, the fear and obstacles; despite the chaos of real life. Think about the future, yes, but live each day with vigour, concern for others and care for the natural environment.

In National Parks, the motto is, leave nothing but footprints. But a national park is like an ashram. It’s the ideal. Ideas grow into deeds like seeds grow into trees. In the real world, leave your mark. Even on the smallest level, do something to make the world a better place. Raise the children to be community minded, grow a garden, lend someone your strength.

2020 is going to be another life-changing year for me, starting with moving house and ending with a publisher for my book. I do more than hope. I do something each day towards my goal; despite the everyday hassles and drama; despite what anyone says. My dreams mix with reality. They merge and flow and continue to grow with any fertiliser thrown at them.

Be uncomfortable. Be active. Do what you need to, to make 2020 a good one.

In the words of my guru, Liz G, Onward!

 

What will you do to thrive in 2020?

 

 

May Tolerance and Humanity Win

The act of one maniac in New Zealand last week has caused life-long devastation to so many people. Whether it be a terrorism attack, hate-crime or act of insanity, is irrelevant to those directly affected. The only good that is coming out of it is how people all over the world are banding together in love for one another. We are all human and therefore, essentially the same, no matter what our beliefs, culture or traditions. Maybe this tragic incident will have a ripple effect amongst different groups, revealing that people can overcome differences and be tolerant of one another.

It is ironic that I was busy blogging about my own shortcomings of tolerance (nothing to do with racism) when my friends started messaging about the violent act in New Zealand. I was unaware!

I have nothing more to say other than my heart goes out to those directly affected, and the world in general if you believe that this was an act of terrorism. I believe that it was more an act of one (or more sociopaths) that insanely think they’re more important than others.

I would like to share a story of my visit to Kolkata where I was pleased to see how different religions and people from various backgrounds, can get on so well together in a close community. I believe Australia and New Zealand are very much the same.

I did a walk through an area called the grey area, the area between the white area (the British Colonials) and the black area (Indian nationals but more specifically, locals) at the time of British rule. I didn’t name these areas. That is what they were called (and still referred to in an historic discussion).

The area has a great Chinatown and mixed European influence, as well as Indian influence from areas outside West Bengal. The point is, these descendants still live and work here. They love it, and my guide, Manjit, a professional and world-renowned photographer, is there to prove it. He is a Sikh and therefore his family came originally from Punjab. He is passionate about the area and does these walking tours to show it off to tourists. (See www.calcuttaphototours.com and Instagram)

The religions that I saw on display, side by side, were Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Muslim and Sikhism (and of course, Hinduism which is never far away in India).

There is a beautiful Synagogue, called Maghen David, which was built in 1884 on the site of the old synagogue. Unfortunately, the remaining Jews are too few to have a rabbi. So, guess who looks after this beautiful building, on a voluntary basis – cleaning it, maintaining it, and showing people like me through it? The Muslim community!

We are all the children of the Universe or earth or God or just other humans! Whatever we believe, we’re all the same makeup. Don’t let us forget that and allow learned differences to interfere with how we get along! Let’s hope that the tragedy in New Zealand might cause a butterfly effect for good.

Peace and Amen.