The Art of Letting Go
A personal account of love and moving on
Like a kid rushing to peek ahead in the textbook while the teacher was lecturing,
I quickly grabbed the handout as it was being passed to me and read through its contents. One line in particular stood out to me, and it also happened to be the topic of the seminar that day:
Being Courageous — Acknowledge your fear and then act.
About two and a half years ago I embarked on the transformation train and began my initial courses through Landmark, a company that holds seminars and retreats for personal growth and transformation. That description hardly encompasses what I experienced in those programs, and in addition to their main events I also took some supplemental seminars to help me put into practice the precious discoveries I was unearthing so that they could be solidified into my being long after the “breakthrough honeymoon” would fizzle.
Enter the “Being Extraordinary” seminar.
In my office I still have the handout that was given to me all that time ago. In reality it hasn’t been that long, but a lot can happen in a few years.
At the time my life was shifting all over the place and it was difficult to find solid ground. It was a time of change, growth and brave choices.
Thankfully, my career was stable. Busy to my earlobes, but stable. My relationship, on the other hand, was not. Like anyone, we had our fair share of arguments and conflict, and what my heart wanted as a “happily ever after” story seemed to be steadily slipping out of my control into an unpredictable future.
I had convinced myself that this was it, and I was determined to do anything to make sure it worked.
Something clicked in that third week of the Being Extraordinary seminar when I got that handout, and I decided that my growth into an extraordinary person required a decision of ultimate bravery (and risk) in my current relationship.
In fact, that last part is a bit of a lie because we weren’t even together when that line stuck out in my head.
“Being Courageous. Acknowledge your fear and then act anyway.”
I was afraid. I had spent years and years hoping to find “the one”, praying, meditating and downright obsessing over a future with the perfect person. That “twin flame” that was made just for me. We would find each other so magically and purposefully and ascend into the eternal depths of the Universe together, a forever kind of love that many dream of but few live.
It had become the most important part of my life.
In a moment, I made a decision that would propel me into the next chapter of my personal growth journey and would not close until over a year later. That decision was to buy a ring and ask this person if they wanted to spend the rest of their life with me.
We had just broken up, the future was uncertain, but something was telling me to be brave and throw my reasons to the wayside. After all, I preach all day to my students to do the same — would I be selective in my choices when faced with similar obstacles?
I had to walk the walk.
So, I jumped into action and began orchestrating the event that had already happened in my mind. Jump off the branch, take the leap of faith and trust the Universe is going to work everything out. This was my opportunity to eat my words.
I messaged a Vedic astrologer who I knew very well and paid for a gem profile to find out what the perfect stone was for her health, wealth and so on. Asking one of my students where she got her jewelry, I quickly befriended the owner of a top of the line jeweler, Hamra, and began looking for a stone.
Jeff found the perfect one, and after a minor resizing accident, he put the original stone in a pendant and gave me another stone free of charge. Upstanding company and quality at its finest to say the least.
It wasn’t free, of course, and this is where a large part of the courage came in.
The damage came out to be a full 3 months of hard work — this was no laughing matter. I’d never spent this much money in my life on anything, let alone another person. I couldn’t charge my debit card for the full amount per day, so I had to pay the balance in two payments. Another great test against the hordes of voices screaming at me to quit, get a refund and run for the hills while I still could.
Somehow we made contact again but, this time, I had a plan. In a week I’d be leaving to San Diego for the annual Beach Bash competition and I was going to jump through the next hoop of courage by asking her to come with me.
“But we aren’t even together…” I remember an echo of some conversation in my mind.
No, we weren’t, but trips had always brought the fire back and dissolved whatever BS was going on between us — and San Diego was special. San Diego was where the magic happened a year prior — it was where we fell in love.
Exactly a year before, I invited her to join me for the same competition and it was our first road-trip together. Having some time alone together other than being out at a club or with friends gave us a chance to finally slow down and get to know each other, and as the trip finished we took our final walk on the beach on Sunday afternoon, opened up to each other and, well, the rest was history.
There’s nothing like a good beach to put you at ease and let that vulnerability out.
While it took another month or two to actually articulate those feelings openly, San Diego was a special place and a reminder. It was a reminder that I was hoping would rescue the situation we had gotten in — constant fighting, on and off with one another, misunderstandings and the usual that everyone goes through. This was my best shot — I was going to take her to San Diego, remind her about what really mattered between us and make the courageous choice of giving myself fully to a future with her.
I wanted to live an extraordinary life and that meant owning my fears.
Somehow, we ended up going to San Diego together. I use the word, “somehow,” because it wasn’t a smooth process. We weren’t on good terms and reasons played a strong game — but I guess in the end destiny will always prevail. If something is meant for you, it will find its way into your life — whether that is a lesson, a lover or a bit of both.
On the drive there I was a bit panicky. Not so much for the what but rather the how. My original plan was to pop the ring in an ornamental seashell, take a walk on Sunday afternoon at the same place we had been a year before and “pretend” to find the seashell on the beach, letting her open it up. Super cheesy, I know. I can’t tell you how many hours I spent looking up seashell jewelry boxes on Amazon, only for it to be delayed and never getting to my house.
I had literally no plan on how I would do this.
When we got to the hotel and checked in, my fortune seemed to be changing a bit. For some reason, they offered us a penthouse VIP suite upgrade, overlooking the garden of the beautiful Hilton Marina Bay in sunny San Diego. The room was gorgeous, and absolutely no reason to justify how we got it, but I guessed by that point that I wasn’t going to be in control of this process after all.
Throwing around idea after idea on how I would do it, I was starting to run out of time. Friday night nothing happened, and Saturday came around with also not much to offer. The weekend wasn’t short on uncertainty either, varying between bouts of elation and the same old toxic, pointless conflict.
If only she knew why the fuck I brought her here, I thought.
Saturday night rolled around and we found ourselves in bed, lying next to each other. I was about an hour from going on the floor and competing, and I had no clue what would happen. The ring box was in my luggage, and we just laid there. It was nice. Things were quiet, finally. And then, God appeared and reminded me that She has a sense of humor.
Throughout my life I have had a mystical connection with music. No joke. I can’t tell you how many times I’d be thinking of an issue or a situation and, literally, the music playing has a message for me at that very point in time. It has happened so many times that it is impossible to ignore. What happened next was another example, and it made for a great proposal story.
As we laid there in our dark room under those comfy sheets, I held her in my arms. We were facing the patio, overlooking the garden. I smelled her hair and took it all in. It was one of those moments I wish I could have forever, but knew it was slipping away like sand between my fingers. There was a crappy old radio in the room and for some reason I just suddenly noticed it being on. Was it on the whole time? I had no clue, but the moment I noticed it I realized it was playing “80’s love songs” for some hot Saturday night action, I guess.
At a moment after that one, Listen to Your Heart by Roxette came on and I almost broke the silence by looking up at the ceiling and saying, “Really??”
We both sat there, listening to the lyrics. Listen to your heart. I couldn’t believe it. I said to myself, “Screw it, here we go,” and whispered into her ear,
“Hey I want to ask you something…but I am afraid.”
“Don’t be afraid,” she whispered back, as if already knowing what was about to happen.
It was in that dark little hotel room that, on one knee and naked, I ended up proposing to the person who I wanted nothing but to spend the rest of my life with. Despite all the turmoil it had taken to get there, all the sacrifice, all the pain and difficulty for both of us — in the moment when she said yes and we both cried, it was all worth it.
Today I write about these things and they are good memories, nothing more. I am grateful for them and the amazing change they propelled in my life as a result of being extraordinarily courageous. Life did not end happily every after as I had hoped, and 6 months later after trying to live together, we parted ways in an unfortunately non-amicable manner.
When this happened, the next major chapter of my life began and it was about truly finding myself. I started a blog, I began writing again, and in the last two years I came back into my being by discovering my creative power and the gifts I was meant to share with others in this life — I started playing music again and recording albums, created a coaching business, started writing two books and a lot of other really, really good things. It has been a slow process in some ways and a very accelerated one in others.
I look back two and a half years though and things are so vastly different that it blows my mind.
Certainly anything but ordinary.
About 6 months or more after the ordeal had passed, I got a call from a guy who wanted to buy the engagement ring I put up for sale. I had been trying to sell it for months, but like with everything else in my life, these types of things were intimately tied with spiritual growth.
I say intimately tied because, in my life, most anything from relationships, to my finances, to the people I meet — they are all seem to have tied to some greater spiritual purpose or lesson. Perhaps I find those lessons because I am naturally curious about them, or perhaps there is a greater governing force at work in the background.
I knew with my finances that things always went well when I had a spiritual breakthrough and not so well when my awareness was more self-centered. It’s like the Universe rewarded me for “figuring it out” by releasing whatever needed to be released and as a result I got a reward. The money was an effect of a spiritual re-alignment.
This ring was no different, and it all had to do with letting go.
I almost had the sale with the guy, but something kept me at bay. Was I sure that I wanted to sell the ring? What about the pendant? That was the original stone, the one that represented all those moments — maybe I’ll just keep that as a reminder of a good memory, I thought. Maybe, just maybe.
I wasn’t ready. My friends and I went to San Diego again a year later and, while I had done a lot to let it all go, it was difficult not to remember being there again for the first time.
Letting go is an art, and I say it is an art because art is a matter of mastery. Literally anything at the highest levels of mastery becomes art. Cooking, karate, architecture. It’s all art, and so it the practice of letting go.
Apparently, I was still practicing.
The guy that contacted me was the only one that wanted to buy the ring, and for a good price at that. Something happened and he just dropped out at the last moment, never hearing from him again.
It made me wonder what I needed to let go of, so I took a second look.
Maybe it was because I spent so much money, maybe it was because I didn’t want to completely let go of the memory or even the possibility of somehow, in some twisted Universe, working it out again. I definitely had some soul searching to do, but I was close.
A few months and more personal growth episodes later and it was time for one of my friend’s birthdays. I knew she would be there, and part of me wondered in slight anxiety how it would be. Would I avoid it and do a disservice to my friend just because I felt a little awkward? We hadn’t talked face to face for almost a year, and any attempts on my part when we’d meet randomly at a public place had been met with the cold shoulder.
Still, why was it even bothering me to begin with?
It was uncertain, it was weird, it was annoying. The annoyance was mostly that, on some level, there was something there that still bothered me and I decided to listen to the handout from my old seminar, now posted on my office wall staring back at me, and be courageous again.
Courageous to face whatever it was that was there, to let go completely, to embrace nothing.
Coming to the point in your life where you decide to risk it all and create a future in your mind with someone is not easy. You really have to believe it — every cell of your body has to believe it. That feeling permeates your entire being, and when you get to the point that the person in front of you means the parent of your future children, it creates an imprint in your consciousness.
That imprint is very difficult to do a U-Turn from and get back to nothing, to empty and meaningless.
This process is what I underwent over the course of a year or so and, while it wasn’t easy, I can say that all of the actions I took to create my life, discover who I am, write, be grateful, share, contribute to others, and so on — all of that accelerated a process that probably would have taken years without those opportunities and challenges.
Well, fast forward to my friend Byron’s party and the night went smoothly. The extent of our conversation was “Hello,” and that was fine. We went our own ways and the awkwardness I had invented and been afraid of dissolved as the night went on and everyone went dancing. I didn’t care, it was back to nothing for me. It was truly empty, and for the first time I felt 100% free of the meaning and weight I had given this person in my life.
“Life is more important than personal relationship,” her dad told me at the beginning of 2017 in a quick Facebook conversation.
A few breakthroughs I had shortly after breaking it off made me think of contacting him and apologizing for whatever strain our conflict had put on him — what with helping her move out of the blue and so on. Laughing, he told me not to worry about it — but the Universe had a message for me through this man and it changed my life in that instant.
These words struck me so hard at the time that it catalyzed one of the most important things I’ve learned in my entire life — and I have only him to thank. It was the impetus for beginning my book idea, podcast, personal coaching work and everything thereafter and I’ll always remember that moment as a major shift due to the right timing and placement of information.
We all have creative energy, a creative power, that we generally waste on trivial matters.
I was reminded of the quote about love that it is not “two people looking at each other but instead two companions walking towards a common destination.”
How much energy I had wasted on pointless conflicts, on trying to be right, on defending, on trying to control the outcome. It was an eye opener.
Life had changed a lot since that quick conversation and, funny enough, the day after my friend’s birthday party I get a call from Lamonte, the guy who wanted to buy the ring, asking me if it was still available. After meeting him and handing it over, I said to myself, “You know what, let me put this pendant up for sale, why the hell not.”
What was the point of hanging on to it? I already had the memory where it counts, in my head. It was great, I’ll never forget it, but it was time to let it go for good.
A few minutes later I got an offer on the pendant and the next day it was sold.
I had tried to sell both of these things for almost a year, yet the moment I changed what they meant to me — that’s when the magic happened.
Sitting there in the parking lot of the QT waiting for the second guy to pick up the pendant I opened the box and looked at it one last time. I had gotten it polished with one of my friends, Betsy, and she was also nice enough to give me a beautiful box to keep it in.
“We had a good run,” I said to the pendant.
To let that go was the ultimate test — it was the original stone that encoded those experiences, it was the real thing to let go between the two. The ring was easy, it was just cash. This was the actual emotion, the actual meaning in physical form.
I remembered what it looked like on her skin for a moment, and smiled contently. It was nice to be able to view these slides of my memory without an emotional reaction anymore, but instead just for the experiences they were — nothing, but also something.
At that moment Bill pulled up and, just as quickly as I decided to buy that stone in front of Hamra’s in a moment of courage — I exercised that same courage again to let it go.
In some perspective, we are all connected. Separation is very much an illusion of the senses, and knowing that you belong to a greater web that supports you and loves you was one of the greatest lessons of 2016 for me. Regardless what happened, my experiences with her were priceless and I would do it all over again if I had to — because what I gained from being courageous was so much more than I could have ever imagined.
It took blood sweat and tears, but I got myself. I got me, I got who I am in this world and I got free.
What I learned about love, people and myself as a result of these memories and experiences is so much more valuable than the stones that represented them, and just like I had to let go of resources to obtain the beautiful gems — to get the real treasures of my life I had to let go of the earthly ones.
Letting go is difficult, and it is not something that just happens. Sometimes it can, but for the big things it is definitely a process. It is something you have to actively work on, that you have to create. It’s like walking around with a bag of bricks — it won’t go anywhere unless you start addressing it (often one brick at a time).
I was fortunate that I had an empowering place worked at, good friends and the time to explore and discover myself — all key factors in the journey that it is to let go. All of life, in fact, can be described as a continual process of letting go, of shedding our ego and ascending into something greater. Some call it nothing, others call it nirvana, eternity, spiritual awakening, whatever.
Today, I call it The Art of Letting Go.