Wide Spot: Give Up

Some of my friends are just fine. They are doing exactly what they love, making music or mentoring younger people or hiking all over the mountains. They are joyful and creative and it’s fun to be with them. I don’t know about the dark corners in the middle of their nights, but clearly, they are okay.

Other friends are not at all okay. Every day is some fresh new hell; their entire focus seems to be on what’s wrong, what’s falling apart. I appreciate their clarity, I really do. But they’re living in a place I don’t want to spend a lot of time visiting.

Then there are all of us in the middle, those whom I’ve mentally dubbed the “reliable” ones. Today, this column is for you. We have jobs and families to care for, duties to the community, commitments to ourselves about how we will conduct ourselves. We’ve been trying to show up when it’s hard, to do things right. Maybe in some corner of our minds we think that if we’re good enough, all this will be over soon. Or something like that.

Lately things have been a bit harder. For you, too? A goodly number of my normally stable friends have fallen apart, at least a little. Some of us get sick, some go on stress leave. Or we change jobs, give up, check out, step out, move out, just plain quit being responsible. 

Simply relying on our personal good intentions to hold us steady as systems collapse is like having a foot on the brake and a foot on the gas simultaneously. Eventually the system shakes to pieces. For each of us, the trigger for collapse is different: too many sleepless nights, some new family dysfunction, one more murdered activist, or just someone needing your attention when you’re too tired to think. But the results are similar. We crumple in a heap, get sick, stay sick, lose it. We are defeated.

Maybe we should give up first. 

Giving up can feel as if my sense of myself is demolished. I can experience letting go as if it were failure, as if I no longer had the capacity to care, or everything I do is useless.

But I’m talking about a different giving up. It’s more like letting go, and it tumbles us into a bigger reality, an awareness of something More. When this happens to me, I don’t become more efficient or capable; I just have an empty space where all my striving was. That empty space allows room for Love to move through me, doing what needs to be done. I don’t have a foot on the brake and a foot on the gas anymore; hell, I’m not even behind the wheel!

Leonard Cohen’s song, “You Have Loved Enough,” speaks to this state. Go listen on YouTube. And when he says, “…you have loved enough, now let me be the Lover,” try letting go. Let something More—let Love—do the work.

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