Letting Go

He held out his fist, palm up. Slowly, like the petals of a rosebud opening to full bloom, he extended each finger until his hand lay open before us.

"Here's how I hold onto things... not at all."

Hanniff smiled broadly as he shared his attitude toward change. Toward his midlife transition from banking to teaching, featured in my previous post, "Prepare Like It's Inevitable."

The day after this exchange I took a long walk in our park. The image of Hanniff's upturned, open hand walked with me. His words, his voice, broke through the rush of water racing over rocks in the creek to my right and the lively birds socializing in the trees all around me. I go where I'm led. I write what comes through. "What better symbol for acceptance than an open hand? No resistance. No fear. Change welcome."

With that, my mind turned to the Tibetan Buddhist practice of mandala sand art. So much time and care to create stunning works of art that are, by design, as impermanent as our mortal lives. Inspired, I found these images at Dartmouth's Hopkins Center for the Arts "LIVE at the HOP" Gallery.

Dartmouth College Hopkins Center for the Arts
The Mystical Arts of Tibet: July 26-29, 2007
Photos by Kawakahi Amina

Their beauty touches us. The care that went into them speaks to us. The art fills us. But the works don't have to remain to do so. Truly, it is their fleeting existence that heightens their impact on our soul.

And so it is with each and every one of us. We are all here, in the scheme of things, for a very brief visit. Fear of letting go of the familiar, no matter how unfulfilling, is fear of living. Your life is a work of art. Never stop creating and recreating it. You came into this world a master of change. Growing up is an awesome experience. Full of wonder and change and yes, sometimes, fear. Good for you it isn't a choice. And neither is growing older.

Anchors are of our own making. Staying tethered, of our own choosing. Start today to practice this simple act of your imagination and power. Hold tight to the thick rope anchoring you to your present life circumstance. Squeeze it with a white-knuckle grip. Then slowly, very slowly, begin to release your hold. Relax and feel the coarse hemp begin to slip through your hand. Feel it running through your fingers more lightly and quickly as you loosen your grip.

Now drop the line and turn your hand, palm up, empty. How does it feel to free yourself? What relief are you experiencing? What stress is evaporating? Sense the movement. Your movement. One last look back now. Your past isn't fading into the background. You are emerging into the foreground of the masterpiece that is you. Where are you going? What are you doing? Who are you being? Do you know? Or are you OK for the moment, just breathing. Living in relief.

Grab a brush and some paint. A blank canvas is an opportunity, like your stark-naked birth. Splash that liquid life with abandon. Let it take form like billowing clouds, sculpted by the wind's breath into recognizable shapes. Beautiful. Majestic. Purposeful forms. Playing their roles. Being themselves. Just like you.