Category Archives: blog

embracing the feminine

divine embrace

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8, I wanted to share a couple of videos that I feel embody the spirit of embracing the feminine.

To embrace means to hold, to accept and support. The feminine is what is specifically female, the qualities one associates with being a woman – defining the feminine is a little more tricky because this word holds both positive and negative connotations. Nevertheless, the feminine is what makes women quintessentially female, and I have long felt that the modern women’s movement is, at heart, the struggle to embrace the feminine.

Long ago, it was not such a struggle. In matriarchal cultures, the divine as seen in the feminine was respected, nurtured, and honored. Through time and the evolution of both society and religion, women’s roles changed. What was considered in the realm of the female became circumspect, and the qualities that made women feminine were marginalized and the “reproductive processes” that traditionally were attributed to women were seen as inferior to the “productive processes” of men.

In the quest for civil/human/equal rights, women have been told in many different ways that to be considered equal to men, to work and live alongside men, women needed to behave as men. The feminine qualities that make women female needed to be left outside of the office, the boardroom, the lab – and that is how women would succeed in a “man’s world.” Women went from burning their bras to wearing power suits, and called it progress. Or even worse, women became complicit in their own exploitation, understanding themselves only within the context of a male lens.

What I have long believed is that there truly are differences between men and women, and it is these differences that provide a wider view of the world, and all of our places within it. To be equal does not mean that men and women are the same, or can perform the same tasks in the same way, or even have the same mindset. To be equal means that our gender differences are respected and articulated, seen as distinctly different from each other, but each holding equal value.

In today’s world, gender has become understood to be much more than the physical body. So when we talk about gender in today’s world, we must see beyond the binary assigned to us at birth. When we talk about gender, what we are really talking about are qualities. The qualities assigned to each gender – feminine, masculine – are not only qualities within us, but qualities that society has inculcated and projected upon us.

Personally, I feel that we are all much more gender fluid than society would have us believe, and I think that we all have feminine and masculine qualities.  Men cry. Women are not always caregivers. Some men are born women. Some women are born men. What makes us identify with a certain gender goes far beyond what gender we were assigned at birth. The qualities assigned to each gender are largely constructs of society. Truth be told, our souls know no gender, only spirit.

Nevertheless, what we consider to be feminine – as, according to the first thing that came up when I typed “definition of feminine” into google is “having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness … Synonyms: womanly, ladylike, girlish, soft, delicate, gentle, graceful.”

Contrasted with the “definition of masculine” (which also was the first thing that came up when I typed “definition of masculine” into google): “having qualities or appearance traditionally associated with men, especially strength and aggressiveness … Synonyms: virile, macho, manly, muscular, muscly, strong, strapping, well built, rugged, robust, brawny, heavily built, powerful, red-blooded, vigorous.”

We can begin to see part of the problem with even the denotations of these words, much less the connotations. What seems better? To be strong, or to be soft? To be delicate and gentle, or to be powerful and vigorous? But what if we recognized that to be strong is also to be soft? What if we understood that to be delicate and gentle can also take enormous power and vigor? Because this is truly the reality of how these polarities work. There is no true either/or, in reality. The nature of duality is to be whole, to be one.

The problem really lies in the mindset that one set of qualities is better or more valuable to society than another, which is what brings me to the original reason for this post: embracing the feminine, the long marginalized and often seen as inferior qualities within both women and men, whether assigned or identified with either gender, whether these qualities have been projected onto us, internalized, rejected, or innate within.

Traditional feminine qualities such as caring, empathy, sensitivity, nurturing, giving, understanding, communicating, patience, kindness, vulnerability, beauty, selflessness, loving, sensuousness, warmth, compassion … are incredibly powerful qualities. They are very much needed in the world. These qualities are not limited to a particular gender, though they have been traditionally associated with women.

These qualities to be cherished and, above all, valued, for the light they bring to the world.

Please enjoy the following videos, both of which have brought me to tears, lifted my heart, inspired me with hope, and encouraged me to embrace the feminine – in all of us, for all of us.

Namaste. x

 

“Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full of hope? Where are you, wise woman covered in wounds? Where are you?

The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace.”

 

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“so the mother in me asks, what if… what if this darkness is not the darkness of the tomb, but the darkness of the womb? What if our America is not dead, but a country that is waiting to be born? What if the story of America is one long labour?

What if all of our grandfathers and grandmothers are standing behind us now, those who have survived occupation and genocide, slavery and Jim Crow, detention and political assault … what if they are whispering in our ears – today, tonight – you are brave. What if this is our nation’s great transition?

What does the midwife tell us to do? Breathe.
And then? Push.
Because if we don’t push we will die.
If we don’t push, our nation will die.

Tonight we will breathe. Tomorrow we will labour … in love, through love, your revolutionary love … is the magic we will show our children.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa.” – Valarie Kaur

 

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still i rise

still-i-rise-tattoo

 

poem by Maya Angelou

 

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

 

 

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hallelujah

“Hallelujah is not a mere liturgic command, like a prelude to something exuberant. It is a crucial exercise that teaches us not only how to live but also how to die.” – Arie Uittenbogaard, Hallelujah.

Hallelujah  is the ultimate expression of surrendering control to god, the universe, collective consciousness, and/or divine power, and it is at the heart of the spiritual practice of letting go.

RIP to the great poet, musician, and activist,  Leonard Cohen. Thank you Gungor for sharing this prayer and reminder, in tribute.

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trigger warning: election 2016

three wise monkeys

 

It’s nearing the end of October, and the presidential election of 2016 is only a week away. The above image reflects the general attitude of the American people voting for either Clinton or Trump in November – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – then cast your ballot, pull the proverbial trigger, and turn away as the illusion of democracy implodes.

Our votes are as insignificant as our lives to these people, who are very far removed from the actual plight most Americans face. Both Clinton and Trump are multi-millionaires, both have accumulated their wealth through shady business dealings on the unfortunate backs of others. The majority of Americans do not believe that we hold any power, they do not think that change is possible, and although they may bitch and moan about it, they behave as sheep who follow the herd, who are implicit in upholding the status quo, and who shut their eyes and ears and mouths about lofty ideas about change and revolution.

The majority of Americans are overwhelmed with the basic tenets of survival. We wake up each day, work, work, work for the almighty dollar, so we can pay our bills, keep our homes, keep our families healthy, and buy all the things that are supposed to make us happy. Who cares about the planet, or other races and cultures, as long as we are doing okay? We are lambs being led to the slaughter-house. We are a people who have bought into the system for so long, we have become an integral part of it, and we refuse to see it.

When we awaken, we take to the streets, our voices and hearts carried away by visions of how things could be, and we are put down by a militant police force and a divisive, apathetic society. When we awaken, we begin seeing the irreparable cracks of this broken place called America. When we awaken, we refuse to take part in our own undoing.

I’ve written about the rise of third party candidates, who I now prefer to call “alternative party candidates,” as even the connotation of the term “third party” indicates a less-than or inferior position, which is created by the existing two-party system consisting of Republicans and Democrats. I propose new terms – Remocrats and Depublicans – ones that truly speak to the two-sided double-speak of these two parties, which are built on the idea of duality, where neither can exist without the other as it’s opposite, and yet, they are the same.

Remocrats and Depublicans operate in the same way – using fear of the other. These two parties have successfully inculcated the idea that they are the ONLY viable parties in America. Why? They have consistently used “divide and conquer” methods to retain control of the government. They have played the American people as if they are two bitterly opposed sports teams, and you are forced to choose a team.

People hold onto their “party allegiance” much in the same way as their favorite sports team. Win or lose, once they’ve been given a team (usually by family affiliation and socio-economic status), they are in it for life, and will stand behind their “team” no matter what – a flawed analogy, yet only flawed by it’s own design, for this is really how things are.

But … aren’t we free to vote for other parties besides Depublicans and Remocrats? Shhhhhh …. Hush! You must be a child! Alternative parties – how dare you even suggest such a thing! They won’t win, ever! We won’t let them win!! This is America god dammit, and in America, we only want a winner. You know, if you vote for an alternative party – you might as well throw away your vote! I mean, this is only the ILLUSION of democracy – so shut up and get with the program! This is politics! This is no place for idealism!!!

Do you want Trump to win?!? Do you want a reality TV show celebrity and shady business mogul as president, who has no actual political experience? Are you a bigoted, racist, short-sighted, filthy rich, sexist, misogynistic egomaniac? Because that’s what a vote for Trump signifies! You better vote for Clinton – because if you don’t – it’s all YOUR fault that Trump won!

Do you want Clinton to win?!? Do you want more American-based abuse in other countries, more Clinton foundation pay-to-play government schemes, more lies, more pandering? Are you a willfully blind, secretive, filthy rich, pseudo-progressive egomaniac? Because that’s what a vote for Clinton signifies! You better vote for Trump – because if you don’t – it’s all YOUR fault that Clinton won!

It’s at this point that people start crying about Bernie Sanders. Things would have been so different if he were allowed to compete fairly!! Remember the wave of “idealism” that Sanders rode throughout the primaries? You know, that thing we are supposed to forget about in politics? That thing that the DNC ridiculed about Sanders’ supporters? That was real. It was real because idealism IS a part of politics. What was unusual about Sanders is that he rode this wave of idealism throughout the democratic party primary – and not an alternative party.

Remember all the reports during the democratic primaries that spoke directly to fraud and suppression? That was real, too. No one should be surprised when Hillary Clinton wins this election.

But … Hillary Clinton will be the first woman president! Just like Obama was the first black president! In four years, the democrats will most likely roll out some other “first” to pretend that they are forward thinking. Maybe Michelle Obama will run! That way, the Clinton machine can continue the way it has since 1992. Won’t it be wonderful to vote for a woman?! Now is the point that you are supposed to agree, and forget everything you’ve ever heard about what Clinton has done.

Yes, it will be wonderful to vote for a woman! I can’t wait to cast my vote for Jill Stein – a woman with integrity. (oops! another “i” word that, along with idealism, we’ve come to associate in politics as suspect and naive) And guess what, I’m not voting for Clinton OR Trump, not even by default. I’m sick of hearing immature and short-sighted people braying about what they’ve been told that means. I’m voting for the person and the party I think can help bring desperately needed change to this country.

Jill Stein, along with Ajamu Baraka as her running mate, is a strong candidate, with an impeccable record of political activism. The Green Party has a very strong, impressive, and yes, idealistic, platform that I truly believe in – because I know that they truly believe in it, too, and they will work to make these ideals reality. Alternative parties have been marginalized so far and for so long, the American people have been manipulated thus, and they are actually seen by some people as the villains in this, and any, election cycle. And yet, the real villains take center stage.

While I’m ranting about this, I just want to say one other thing: If you are an artist who has made a living by presenting yourself as alternative, risk-taking, and edgy – you have no business vilifying alternative parties and Trump while drawing hearts around Hillary Clinton, and forbidding people to disagree with you because it’s your opinion. This shows an extreme level of cognitive dissonance, and brings the legitimacy of your art into question. The personal is political. Art is political. You have some serious self-reflection to do, as do your supporters.

I am aware that the jig is up, the rig is in, and that we will never really know the true election results, the way that we never really knew just how well Sanders was doing, and the fact that it never mattered anyway. The Democratic Party could have become a party that truly embraced progressive change, instead they were hellbent on a coronation. History will show this was a critical error in judgment – much in the same way that the Republican Party’s support of Trump will be seen as a critical error. The two-party system is dead; they’ve committed political suicide. We will feel the effects of this for many years to come, and the rise that we’ve seen this election cycle of alternative parties will only continue to grow.

I truly believe that, in the words of JFK,  “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution  inevitable.”

If the democratic primaries have shown us anything, they have shown us that the people behind Clinton (big banks, lobbyists, billionaires, corrupt world leaders, the media, etc, etc) will stop at nothing to make her president. Trump is a straw man, set to burn. Alternative parties are routinely denied media coverage. They were denied access to the presidential debates because the committee is run by Depublicans and Remocrats – they were denied a voice and the ability to access millions of people with their message. Yet, people are finding alternative parties through social media and other alternative news outlets, and are supporting them in record numbers.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so harsh. Truth and Reality can be difficult to digest. Change is hard. Complacency is easy. In this world, people sometimes make a choice to live in a world of illusion, because to acknowledge truth is too hard. This is why “ignorance is bliss” but “the truth will set you free.” You can view the current two-party system as the blue pill, and alternative parties as the red pill. “You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” (The Matrix)

Perhaps this election cycle has really come down to this idea put forth by Marianne Williamson:  “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”

Maybe that is why people continue to support our oppressors through the two-party system, and why idealism and integrity have become dirty words in politics. Many people do not really want to know how deep the rabbit hole goes, because it may be uncomfortable, and they want to preserve their illusions.

Nevertheless, many people understand the necessity of change, that revolution is not easy nor comfortable, and it is worth the risk to seek what wonder there is to be found on the other side.

 

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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.

 

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This post was also published as an op-ed piece via The Huffington Post!


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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