The Art of Letting Go
A moment comes in life when one learns to let go of certain dreams, friendships or lovers that at one point, meant everything. Nevertheless, we do it knowing that the important things will come back to us, perhaps with different faces and more sincere smiles, and with fresh air capable of helping us start anew, again and again.
It is interesting how the world of children’s literature offers us wonderful lessons about personal growth that would be worth thinking about more often. One of these examples is in “The Wizard of Oz” by Lyman Frank Baum. In this unforgettable work of literature, we meet a young girl who is swept up by a powerful tornado and arrives in a new and unknown world.
“I can’t return to yesterday, because I am already a different person”
From the moment that Dorothy arrives in the world of Oz, she is thinking about only one thing: returning home. Her initial fear of this new and terrifying situation diminishes little by little thanks to her new and odd friends, her silver shoes, and a very concrete goal: find the Wizard of Oz and ask him to send her home. To achieve this, all she has to do is follow the yellow brick road.
After many adventures and misfortunes, the young protagonist discovers that in reality, the power to return home was always there, inside of her. Nevertheless, her fascinating journey is the key to awaken her personal strengths one-by-one and to discover the incomparable courage that all of us have in some small part of ourselves.
Getting lost and far away from our usual path is not as bad as it can seem at the beginning. Letting go of certain things, people, projects, and ambitions isn’t the end of the world. In the end, what matters are the steps we take and everything we learn. Only in this way can we let that which needs to return, return to us, while we advance along this yellow brick road of personal growth – or “the Golden Path” that Buddhism speaks of.
That which has to return to us will return in its own time and place. In the meantime, we practice letting go.
Andrea is an engineer. She has created a sophisticated and original means of transportation for pets that adjusts to the backseats of cars and guarantees total safety and comfort for domestic animals. Each time that she presents her project to a business person she explains that her idea would save the lives of countless animals that die in traffic accidents due to lack of protection.
So far only one person is interested in Andrea’s idea, but after the initial “yes”, the business has renigged, saying that it isn’t a viable project. Nevertheless, our protagonist hasn’t quit. She doesn’t give up nor has she allowed any of her dreams to crumble. Andrea understands that she has to keep working. She has told herself that maybe she needs to look for more affordable but equally safe materials, or search for other markets, present her idea abroad, etc…
She knows that opportunities will return, but they will return on their own time and in their own place. She is fully confident that more people and organizations will be attracted to her project and that is why she continues to invest her time, ideas, and effort in her project every single day. The most likely scenario is that this young engineer will be successful sooner or later because, as the philosopher Jose Antonio Marina tells us, talent is intelligence in action. Though sometimes we think all is lost, the yellow brick road is always there, in front of us.Losing, getting a negative answer, failing, tripping three times over the same pebble, or even falling in love with the least suitable person in the world, all have their purpose: learning a lesson. All of these potholes in the road mean having to improve the strength of our life purpose because after the “tornado” comes the calm, and the necessity to weave personal goals that are more beautiful, dignified, strong, and above all, resistant.
Sooner or later, opportunities will return and when they do, we will be perfectly prepared.
After letting go, everything that comes back, does it in a different way.
Stars are so far from us that the light of even the closest ones takes years to reach our small planet. Sometimes we forget that, however, and there are nights that we delight in pointing them out, one by one, forgetting that many of them no longer exist, that they exploded a long time ago, breaking apart into stardust in the cosmic vacuum.
“Don’t go out, return to yourself. In man’s interior lies the truth.”
We know that not everything that comes back to us is authentic, like the light from those stars. Sometimes we lose love and we wait for a better, brighter, more passionate and romantic love. Other times we let an opportunity escape and we wait for the same luck to come around as soon as possible, in the blink of an eye. However, none of this will happen as quickly as we hope or in the way that we dream it will.
We must be patient and remember that things definitely return, but always in a different way. Maybe love comes again but it is more calm and enriching. Or another opportunity comes around that isn’t quite as eye-catching and shiny, but it carries more benefits.
It’s all about being receptive and putting on the same silver shoes that Dorothy wears in The Wizard of Oz. Even though the movies would have us believe that the shoes were red, the book’s author, Lyman Frank Baum, imagined silver shoes for a very concrete reason.
Dorothy’s shoes represented “the silver thread” of spiritual growth. This is the link by which we acquire a clearer view of things and of our own identity to achieve wisdom. To understand that life is a journey in which things are lost and gained, where nothing is permanent and where everything that comes our way is a gift we must know how to make the most of.