the rise of 3rd party candidates

time for change

 

A political revolution has already been started in America, and people are becoming more awake and aware of their necessary role in fighting for change. With both major party candidates being extremely unpopular, bringing questions of their personal and political ethics to the forefront, the dissatisfaction of the current business-as-usual politics, and the refusal to choose “the lesser of two evils,” more people than ever before are turning to 3rd party candidates as a refreshing and viable alternative.

This election cycle, people are supporting 3rd party candidates in record numbers. The two-party system is a symbol of the polarizing, divisive, either/or mentality that we have grown so accustomed to, which only serves to disconnect us from each other and the world. The two-party system is irreparably broken. Year after year, we are becoming more aware of voting irregularities and outright fraud, as we place our votes with wary consciousness, hoping that our votes count, wanting to believe that our voices matter.

America is a country that actually has more Independent and “No Party” affiliated voters than either Republicans or Democrats; however, two-party politics have long dominated the political arena. If you believe what you have been taught, in both implicit and explicit ways, then you “know” that a 3rd party candidate has a snowball’s chance in hell at being elected president …. But is that really true? This mindset is a carefully constructed manipulation supported by the two-party system as well as the media, in order to discourage ‘outsiders’ from entering the presidential race and also, to discourage the American people for voting for those who do.

3rd parties are overflowing with people literally trying to change the world. They are idealists, who inherently believe in challenging the status quo. They are also realists, who have had to jump through hoops and work harder than any of us could fathom, just to have the chance to represent the American people. They have the courage of their convictions, and only ask us to have the same. They hold us to a higher standard – to become active and involved, and to work alongside them in creating a future that we want for ourselves, the planet, and the world. 3rd parties inspire and motivate us to question our preconceived notions about government, elections, and our role in the political system. The truth is, with enough support, a 3rd party candidate can win the presidential election.

The system is set up in a way that makes it very difficult for 3rd parties to even enter the presidential race. There are ballot access laws, which require 3rd party candidates to petition each individual state in order to be allowed on the ballot for president. (It is anticipated that both Stein and Johnson will have received ballot access in all 50 states by the election) Next, there is the question of having one’s voice heard. The media has routinely denied 3rd party candidates this exposure. In fact, they have also worked as operatives in reassuring the American people that a 3rd party vote is “a wasted vote” and have psychologically influenced people into thinking that a 3rd party candidate is at best an interloper and a nuisance, and at worst, a spoiler. None of this is true.

The way the two-party system operates is by a “winner-take-all” electoral college system, considered to be an archaic, complex, and problematic method, with each candidate needing to reach a certain number (270) of electoral college votes in order to win the election. There isn’t a national presidential election; there are only individual state elections, and to complicate things a little further, we are not really voting for the president, we are voting for the electors from our respective states who will in turn vote for the president. Electors usually follow the popular vote, but they are not mandated to. Because the number of electors per state is proportional to the amount of delegates they have in the house and senate, there are only 5-7 states who actually determine who the president will be.

It is argued that anything more than two parties would destroy the proportion of numbers, which would lead to confusion and chaos, as no clear winner would emerge. As we have seen in previous elections, the two-party system is not infallible, and there have been times when the president was decided, not by the people, not by the electoral college, but by the supreme court. One could also argue that since the electoral vote, and not the popular vote, is what actually decides the presidency, then the popular vote doesn’t actually matter at all. And if we agree that it is true, how do you think most Americans feel about the idea that their votes don’t count?

Many Americans are demanding change in the way we vote. Ranked Choice Voting and The National Popular Vote have been put forth as measures to change the current system and to give the people’s vote more power. However, the political establishment is terrified of both these measures. According to the National Archive of the U.S. Electoral College, there have been over 700 proposals within the last 200 years to change, reform, or eradicate this system. This fear is evident by those who uphold both major parties. Even in the Republican Party Platform 2016, it is stated that they “oppose the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact and any other scheme to abolish or distort the procedures of the Electoral College. An unconstitutional effort to impose National Popular Vote would be a grave threat to our federal system.” (i.e. it could dismantle the two-party system, give more power to the popular vote, and make it easier for 3rd party candidates to compete and win the presidency)

“The most political decision you make is where you direct people’s eyes. In other words, what you show people, day in and day out, is political… And the most politically indoctrinating thing you can do to a human being is to show him, every day, that there can be no change.” (Wim Wenders) The more people recognize the truth of this quote, and how the American people have been manipulated through the two-party political system into believing it, the more people will reject what we have been taught, and we will free ourselves from our psychological and political chains by voting 3rd party. It is a natural evolution of our mass consciousness to begin to see 3rd parties as a viable option; it is reflected in the corrupt and broken two-party system and the number of movements within the last few years which have increased in frequency and magnitude, demanding change.

Refusing to vote for the major political party candidates and instead supporting a 3rd party candidate is a powerful step, and a step that millions of people have already taken, and are willing to exercise come November. This election cycle is not about Clinton or Trump. It is also not about Sanders, Stein or Johnson. It is about the American people, standing at the precipice, tested to their breaking point, testing their own strength, and deciding to stand united with 3rd parties against the very system that has been tearing them apart, believing in the power that comes with a new vision, ready to embrace a new world.

*


july

I love you like a woman
pinned to a carnival wheel

blindfolded, I spin
taut against splintered wood

my body is a temporal thing
skin, blood, bone

you throw knives
at the negative spaces

between my fingers, along
the line of neck and jaw

I hold my breath. I do not
speak. I don’t want to break

your concentration
and risk a slip in direction

the sweat on your brow
is glistening in the hot sun.

 

 

 

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“July” is one of the poems in My Mother’s Daughter, a collection of poems I wrote between 1998-2002 and published in 2012.

 


reading series 5.4

flying-letters11

 

“Stories of failure” was a project I began through this reading series which, in spirit, is something of a cross between Russell Banks’ “Success Stories” and Samuel Beckett’s conceptual line, “fail better.” My idea for this series was to share some personal stories and anecdotes from some of the more challenging times in my life. I suppose it is an odd project because most people, myself included, like to focus on the positive. However, I do feel that the challenging times in our lives define us as much, if not more, than the positive times. These times teach us how to rise from the fall, how to find light in the darkness, how to learn new ways of being, how to persevere, and how to find reserves of strength within ourselves, enabling us to begin again, anew.

I wanted to write a little about this before I started up the series again because the last time I embarked on this project, I had received a couple of letters from friends asking if I was okay. They were worried about me because I guess stories about failure tend to be on the sad, depressing, and/or negative side. For the most part, I have tried to temper this with what I learned, how I grew from the experience, or how these experiences have informed my writing, but sometimes the experience stands as is, without a contextual explanation. Nevertheless, I feel that in our failures – what hasn’t worked out, what brought us to our knees, what left us in spiritual darkness, what we have had to overcome – we find, in reality, the truest measure of our success.

 

Quotes about Failure:

 

“Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” – Henry Ford

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.” – Confucious

“Failure after long perseverance is much grander than never to have a striving good enough to be called a failure.” – George Eliot

“Why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me.” – J.K. Rowling

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” – Michael Jordan

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

“It is fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure.” – Bill Gates

“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” – Robert F. Kennedy

“When you take risks you learn that there will be times when you succeed and there will be times when you fail, and both are equally important.” – Ellen DeGeneres

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.” – Paulo Coelho

“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

“We are all failures – at least, the best of us are.” – J.M. Barrie

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

“We climb to heaven most often on the ruins of our cherished plans, finding our failures were successes.” – Amos Bronson Alcott

“Supposing you have tried and failed again and again. You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing we call “failure” is not the falling down, but the staying down.”  – Mary Pickford

“There are defeats more triumphant than victories.” – Michel de Montaigne

“Our business in life is not to succeed, but to continue to fail in good spirits.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.” – John Dewey

“The line between failure and success is so fine that we scarcely know when we pass it – so fine that we often are on the line and do not know it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Many people dream of success. To me, success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection.” – Soichiro Honda

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Isaac Newton

“It is only through failure and through experiment that we learn and grow.” – Isaac Stern

“Failure is not the enemy, but a life-changing experience. It is a human experience, and it prepares the way for us to grow and transform our lives.” – Sobonfu Somé

 

 


on voting, elections & politics in america

138711513

 

I had my first experience voting when I was in second grade. The year was 1980, a presidential election year, and my teacher carried out a “mock-election,” as per the instructions given in our scholastic news leaflet, which was an adjunct to our social studies curriculum. I remember that there were 3 candidates shown, including a picture of each, a short bio, and a very vague description of what they hoped to accomplish as president. Politics were not really discussed in my home, and I didn’t know any of the candidates. I remember wondering why there were no women choices, or why there were no other races represented. Nevertheless, I chose the person who had been a peanut farmer, because I thought being a farmer was cool, and I think I liked the idea of a farmer being president.

The votes were collected, and my choice was severely defeated. I remember feeling a little embarrassed as my classmates crowed that they had chosen a winner. I had clearly chosen a loser. Yet, I didn’t exactly regret my decision … I felt like I was forced into making a choice between only 3 people. I wondered who came up with those choices to begin with. I remember thinking that a movie star probably wouldn’t make a good president, even if he was popular among my classmates. I thought farming was a noble pursuit. What happened in my classroom was a small microcosm of what would happen in the general election; Reagan defeated Carter, and won the election by a landslide.

There are so many things about this experience that would resound in how I viewed voting and politics later in my life. I was a weird child, no doubt, but I really did wonder why there were no women or men of different races when I first learned about the presidents of the United States. I really did think about the implications of what it meant to be told that you can choose the president, but you have to choose among these specific people. Perhaps this also speaks to my later radical, feminist, democratic socialist leanings, or even my tendency toward championing the underdog, but I wished I had better choices, and I still thought that a farmer would make a good president, because I loved the earth and I loved helping my grandmother in the garden. There was nothing glamorous about Carter; he looked sort of humble, and part of me thought that he would make a good president because he looked like a regular person – one of us. (Interestingly, Carter did an amazing amount of good things for people outside of politics, after his presidency and throughout the rest of his life.)

 

 

Of course, if you know anything about Reagan’s presidency, you know how that worked out. In the next two elections, Reagan, then Bush, won. I was disgusted by what these people stood for, and I didn’t think they represented me, much less the majority of people in America. I was still not able to legally vote, but my feelings about the whole process didn’t change all that much from what they had been when I was 7 years old. By the time I was 18, I was already jaded by the whole process. I don’t consider myself a political person. I used to think that I was an idealist, which seemed to be at odds with the business-as-usual game of politics. Nevertheless, in 1992, I was caught between “rock the vote” and the same 3 choices … I registered to vote during Lollapalooza under a festival tent, declining any party affiliation, because I saw Democrats and Republicans as two sides of the same coin. Of course, there are other parties to choose from, but everyone knew that the final race would be between Democrats and Republicans. I had learned from the time I was child that “you lucky Americans are so free that you get to choose your president! Here are your choices, pick one!”

That year, I also learned a bit more about party affiliation and primaries when I went with a friend to vote in the Democratic Primary and neither of us could vote because neither of us were registered Democrats. I had been swept away with voting fever, my past cynicism temporarily quelled, thinking that the primary held some key to the choices given on election day. Still, there was gender and racial bias, but that was America, right? The system can’t change overnight! Jerry Brown seemed better than Clinton, at least, or so I thought at the time. But being locked out of the primary, even willing to overlook all the things I had learned about how insidious the whole thing was, I saw how deeply our choices were already made. Who chooses the president really? How can you win the popular vote and not the electoral vote? What the hell are delegates anyway?  What is the role of money and corporate sponsorship in terms of who is allowed a voice?  Do votes by the people actually count?

Again, if you know anything about the 1992 presidential election, you know that Clinton won, not only the democratic primary, but the presidency. I voted for Clinton, but it was a begrudging vote. I wanted to vote. I wanted to exercise my right. Yet, anyone who said that they smoked pot and didn’t inhale was a major bullshit artist in my book, and I didn’t trust him. Nevertheless, the long standing Republican agenda of being against abortion, against welfare, pro-gun, and essentially pro-capitalist in every sense of the big money corporate world did not agree with me. I was simply voting against something, not for something. I didn’t have a political party to stand behind and support at all costs, even blindly. And honestly, I didn’t think my vote even mattered in the long run. I didn’t see that a single president, either Republican or Democrat, could affect the kinds of promises made during their election bids, or the kind of change I wanted to see. There are other aspects of the government to content with – the senate, the house of representatives, etc. This isn’t even getting into the lobbyists and corporate interests lurking behind everything in American politics. No single person holds that much power. I feel that the president is a kind of figurehead, to tell the truth.

 

 

However, figureheads, even symbolic and ideological figureheads, are important. They represent us as a country. They represent who we are; they hold a mirror to ourselves, and to the rest of the world. That is why by the year 2000, I was caught up in voting fever again. I was so thoroughly against Bush becoming president, I voted while in labor with my second child. That night, I went through triage with the election results on televisions in the hospital. My daughter was born a little after 10pm. My mother visited me a little after midnight, and I asked her who the president was. “We don’t know,” was all she said. “What?!” This was a situation unheard of in my lifetime. We simply didn’t know, because all kinds of shit was going down in Florida, which happened to have Bush’s brother as governor. What happened in the 2000 election that left the American people without a president for several weeks, as the votes in Florida had to be recounted because of an outcry that the voting system was being rigged?

How exactly did so many voters disappear from the rolls – mostly young people, Democrats, “minorities”, and people with low-incomes? How many polling places had machines that didn’t work? How many opened late, closed early, or didn’t open at all? What about entire ballot boxes from “certain” areas that simply disappeared? How did Bush become president when Gore had won the popular vote by a half a million votes – yet they each needed to win Florida – Bush’s brother’s territory – to officially win? This was so outlandish that it could not be hidden. Even when the numbers came in, they didn’t add up. The election was rigged in Bush’s favor in front of the eyes of the entire country, and no one could do anything about it. Besides Florida, voting irregularities in the 2000 election were reported across the entire country, and it is estimated that between 4 to 6 million votes were left uncounted.

The same thing happened in 2004. And it happened again recently, during the primaries for the 2016 election – in Arizona, in New York, and in god knows where else, because we only hear what the media reports. A few thousand here, a few thousand there … these votes go relatively unnoticed. A few weeks ago, it is estimated that 126,000 voters were purged in Brooklyn alone. At first, people were outraged. People were demanding answers. What answers have been given? It’s been a few weeks, life goes on. There are no answers. There will be no re-vote. We’ve accepted that Clinton won the Democratic primary in New York, even though it put Sanders at a serious disadvantage in winning the nomination going forward. But wasn’t that the point? Right, we get it. Politics as usual. We’ll fall in line. We are a nation with A.D.D. We are a country with selective memory. We blink and the issue is in absentia. We have other things to worry about, things we can control, or at least, we perceive that we control far more than we actually do. There is rent to be paid, mortgages to manage, bills, insurance, utilities, etc. We have families to take care of. There is work to be done, we need that almighty paycheck. That’s America, where roughly less than 1% of the population hoards most of the wealth, and the rest of us are millions strong, struggling every day.

 

 

So here we are again, 2016. It’s an election year. My 7 year old self would be happy to see that we’ve had an African American president, but my conscious self knows that he was a figurehead put forth by the Democratic party; nothing has truly changed. My 7 year old self would be happy to see a woman running for a chance to be president, but my conscious self knows that gender is not a definitive issue; Clinton is a politician’s politician, she’s had her hand in every pocket she could put money into, and she’s bought her way this far. I see her as a person who is both power-hungry and untrustworthy, a person who will say anything she thinks the person she is talking to wants to hear while taking care of her own agenda secretly. My 7 year old self would not be so surprised to see Trump doing so well … I saw how people loved Reagan, how Americans worship their celebrities, how fear controls the American people far more than love. My conscious self remembers the 2004 election, when I sat on the couch and cried, watching the map of America bleed red from the center, ice-blue around the edges, barely containing the whole of it. My 7 year old self would have chosen Sanders, the one who appeared to be one of us. My conscious self wants to choose Sanders, knowing that he may not even make it that far, because I want to see America as a country I can be proud of, a country who has stayed true to its roots, a country whose founders wrote the constitution on the wings of revolution and hope, and who would be dumbfounded to see what we’ve become.

I don’t consider myself a political person, but perhaps I am more political than I think. I refuse to accept business-as-usual politics, because this is not the way things have always been in this country, and I do not believe that is how things should be or how they need to be. The past 16 years have seen a growing number of unprecedented abuses in our voting system, as well as in the system itself, carried out in full view of all, and it is amazing to me that Americans can stand for this. We are a country founded on the tenets of revolution – together we stand, divided we fall. If we stand together, we can accomplish things we can only dream of. I still believe that this can happen. I believe that the foundation of this country is our people, not corporations, not the corporate interests of those in power and those who hold the wealth. This country belongs to all people – no matter what their race, gender, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic level happens to be. And I think that we need to care for each other. It seems odd to me that this is a radical, revolutionary idea. It just seems like common sense, but perhaps I am still an idealist, after all.

 

 

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3 dreams

 

1. Night again. I am restless; I toss and turn. My skin itches. I brush my hands across my body in revulsion and fear, trying to ward off the prick and bite of the insects I feel crawling over me. I feel sick. I don’t know if I am awake or dreaming. The sensation continues. I focus on the movement, recognizing the signs and strokes. Someone is writing on my skin. I feel the itch and scratch of vowels, consonants. I strain to decipher the symbols; I can barely make out the words. In the morning, the sheets are crumpled, violently, blurred with blood and ink. There are missing letters everywhere.

 

2. The corridor is empty, and long. I am searching for her. Fluorescent lights throw a naked glare, leaving dark hollows, deep shadows. The walls are rectangles of dull grey-green tile. I am trying to find her in this wretched place, this place we have been before. I remember her eyes, terror-stricken, as I pleaded with her to talk to me. “Something bad is going to happen tonight,” was all she said. I didn’t know if the danger was real or imaginary. She could not be persuaded to say anything more. She had to be very quiet; the voices were screaming inside her head. And then she was gone.

 

3. He is here, again. Here. I reach out to touch him; he is flesh and blood. I inhale the wild scent of him. He is hot-bright, emanating light, casting away all my darkness. Above me, his skull is blinding white. I reach for him, my arms encircling his skeleton. His bones crack and pop, his eyes are black sockets. He is inside me, so deep inside me he is part of me; he inhabits me. My body disintegrates into waves of energy as he takes me further and further into bliss, nothingness, the dreamless sea. I do not want to return. He says “not yet,” breathing the words into my mouth, bringing me back to consciousness.

 

4. I wake up crying. I don’t know why.

 

 

*

 


spring book giveaway

Persephone's Affliction by Michelle Augello-Page

 

In honor of Spring, I’m giving away a copy of my illustrated poetry chapbook, Persephone’s Affliction!

This giveaway is sponsored by amazon.com. It is completely free to enter, and if you win, the cost of the book + shipping is all taken care of.

Click here to access the giveaway. All you need to do is sign in at amazon, then click on the box, and it will automatically let you know if you are a winner.

Thank you for participating, and good luck!!

 

x


on letting go

letting_go_by_bandico-d5s1eyh

I’ve been wanting to write about letting go for some time. However, something kept holding me back. I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say because, the truth is, letting go is not always easy for me. It’s not always difficult, either. The more I thought about it, the more I thought I wanted to write a post about it, because sometimes writing posts on specific topics gives me a place to explore the topic more deeply.

My general idea about letting go is often defined by it’s opposite concept: holding on. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to give up. I’d say I’m more the type of person who likes to keep trying. I will think a thousand ways around a problem in order to find a solution. It’s in my nature to analyze in order to understand things. Nevertheless, I also understand that sometimes there are things that can’t really be understood, and we need to make our decisions and choices with nothing more than intuition, a deep trust in the universe. I think that knowing when to let go is a little like that.

There’s a balance between holding on and letting go, it’s a dance we engage in constantly throughout our lives. From the moment of birth, we form our first attachments; we also grow and change, establishing a cycle of learning how to let go. As we evolve and move through different stages in life, it is necessary for us to leave the past behind in order to step into our future. Sometimes we hold on to things, even if these very things are preventing us from moving forward. Sometimes we hold onto these things especially for that reason, because we are afraid of change.

We repeat this cycle throughout our lives. When we are born, we do not know how to walk. At first, we do not even crawl. We are dependent on those around us to carry us, to feed us, to care for us. What propels a child to crawl? I think it is natural curiosity, the same curiosity that also propels a child to walk. During the process of being carried to crawling to walking is a constant exercise in holding on and letting go, even for caregivers, who are also receiving lessons as to when to hold on, when to let go. I do not remember what it was like to stand for the first time, on my own, but I imagine dizzying freedom.

In thinking about letting go, I’ve also thought a lot about the nature of attachment. In psychology, the nature of attachment refers to Attachment Theory, which basically seeks to understand the way we interact with and respond to people as rooted in the infant/caregiver dynamic, extending to different types of relationships. Attachment is a biological imperative, and the foundation of our interpersonal relationships. This is where we work out our issues surrounding love and trust, nurturing and caring, power dynamics, giving and receiving, emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing.

As a parent, one of the most important things I’ve learned is that growth is rooted in change. Indeed, the only constant in life is change. With each life stage my children have gone through, I had to say goodbye to who they were at that particular stage, and also to the person I was during that time. In response to this, I have learned that parents need to grow and change with their children at each stage – essentially, holding on and letting go.

Since my own life has been one of constant flux and change, I’ve come to accept many aspects of holding on and letting go. This has affected how I parent, but it has also affected how I am. With everyone I know, I try to be conscious of the fact that we all change. The person I was yesterday is not necessarily the person I was last year, and I accept that we are always growing, changing, and evolving. When I engage with my children, I am looking at who they are right now, not who they were in the past, or who they will be in the future. When I look at my love, I fall in love with him each time I see him, because he is not the same person I saw the last time we were together. In this way, I have cultivated an awareness of the present moment, and of living in the present moment.

But still, I have trouble letting some things go. I’ve been thinking about different times in my life where I had to let go. Sometimes I have let things go with relative ease, accepting and optimistic about the future. Other times, I have had great difficulty letting go. Recently, my cat died. It happened very suddenly, and no one was prepared. I had a lot of difficulty letting go. I could not let go of the pain. My sense of loss was profound. I was very attached to my cat. I cried so much, I began to worry that my reaction to his death was too severe. I tried to think about all of the moments we shared, all of the things I loved about him. I had to let go of the loss and sadness I felt without him alive. I had to let go of trying to find a reason. I had to let go.

In religion, Buddhism in particular, attachment refers to the things which cause us suffering. Our attachments may be people, places, things, thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, etc. To put it simply, the reason for our suffering is rooted in the idea of holding on and letting go. We hold on to what is impermanent. The reason we suffer is because everything in life is impermanent. It is only through letting go that we can achieve enlightenment … meaning, understanding that our attachments are mired in our own preoccupations, our possessions, our obsessions, even – but all of these things are impermanent and fleeting in the great cosmic dance of life. So you have to let it all go, to just be. That place of being is my understanding of enlightenment.

Of course, enlightenment is the goal. It is not quite as easy to live in moment and to “just be” as it is to explain what that means. I feel that there are moments where I have engaged this state of mind during meditation, writing, and sex. But I do not feel that I am living in the moment on an everyday basis. I’m aware of my attachments, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them.

For example, I have a lot of books. I guess I’m attached to books. When I moved, the primary thing I had to move was my books. I don’t have a lot of clothes or shoes. I don’t have a lot of furniture. I don’t have a lot of things, in general. But I do have a lot of books. I don’t think it is a problem, because I don’t have to sculpt tunnels through the house (I have bookshelves, counters, only one or two piles), or spending an exorbitant amount (I get most of my books used). I’m aware that I’m rationalizing … I know that I have a psychological attachment to books, as much as I love the physical object. It goes deep.

Every once in a while, I donate books. I do it consciously. I go through my bookshelves, looking for ones to part with, making room for new books. In this sense, I’m letting go. I’m still holding on, but, I guess that subconsciously, I’m seeking to balance my attachment. As humans, we are biologically predisposed towards attachment. It is part of how we have evolved as a species, and how we continue to evolve. Nevertheless, from the moment our earliest attachment bonds form, we are in a continual balancing act of holding on and letting go.

As we get older, we grow and change sometimes in less noticeable ways than we did when we were children, yet the process is the same. Sometimes, we need to let go of relationships that have become hurtful, jobs that no longer serve us, places that constrict us, people who control us. We need to let go of the past in order to make way for the future. And although it is difficult to live a life free of attachment, we need to at least question our attachments, to be aware of them, to make sure that they are healthy and promoting our overall growth. The most important step in balancing our attachments is also the hardest: we need to discern when to hold on and when to let go.

Finding this balance and level of discernment can be challenging. Sometimes we stay too long in bad situations, afraid to change, holding on because we are afraid to let go. Other times, some people do not try hard enough, they give up too easily, letting things go because holding on would take too much work.  I think that when most people think about letting go, the connotations include putting the past behind us, freeing ourselves from a bad situation, and accepting one’s limitations. However, we also are letting go when we open our mindset or challenge our belief systems, when we accept creative energy and flow, and when we accept change without fear, as a vehicle towards evolution. Letting go means to release something, to free something. When we exhale, we let go.

There is also an aspect of control when it comes to attachments. It almost seems in human nature that the first step after attachment is the need to possess. When a child becomes attached to a favorite toy, the child will cry if the toy is not ‘there’. Sometimes children like to collect things, because they are so attached, they need more of them. We carry these behaviors into adult life in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. We want to possess things, as well as people. The root of this possession is our attachment, and all of the layers of meaning that we’ve attached to it. I think that control plays another role too, in the sense of general control that we have over our lives. Control is in many ways an illusion. When things happen that threaten our sense of control, it can be very disorienting and confusing. We don’t understand why some things happen. They just do. Sometimes letting go means letting go of the illusion of control, and allowing trust to carry you on part of your path.

As humans, our attachments are many. We bond with people, animals, plants, places, things. We wrap our self-identity in our attachments, seeking definition and meaning from them, telling us and others who we are. I think it is this enmeshing of identity and attachment where people find the most difficulty letting go. We can be so attached to a person, a place, a state of mind, that we lose ourselves in mirrors, powerless, afraid to change. And yet, we still change.  We always do. Whether by circumstance or by choice, we change. And in the process, we subject ourselves to forming attachments, over and over again, certain to hurt us. We hold on, learning what it means to live, to love, to grow. We want to hold on to what is impermanent – life, time, money, illusions, possessions, everything. We let go, over and over again, we let go.

I’m going to close here with some quotes I found about “letting go.”

Holding on is believing that there’s a past; letting go is knowing that there’s a future.
—Daphne Rose Kingma

Some of us think holding on makes us strong, but sometimes it is letting go.
—Hermann Hesse

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.
–Lao Tzu

Suffering is not holding you. You are holding suffering. When you become good at the art of letting sufferings go, then you’ll come to realize how unnecessary it was for you to drag those burdens around with you. You’ll see that no one else other than you was responsible. The truth is that existence wants your life to become a festival.
—Osho

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.
—Deborah Reber

What happens when you let go, when your strength leaves you and you sink into darkness, when there’s nothing that you or anyone else can do, no matter how desperate you are, no matter how you try? Perhaps it’s then, when you have neither pride nor power, that you are saved, brought to an unimaginably great reward.
—Mark Halperin

It is by giving the freedom to the other, that is by letting go, we gain our own freedom back.
—Aleksandra Ninkovic

Even as I hold you, I am letting you go.
—Alice Walker

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
— Havelock Ellis

Anything I cannot transform into something marvelous, I let go.
– Anais Nin

We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.
– Joseph Campbell

Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.
– Ann Landers

In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself.
– Deepak Chopra

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