He Takes Flight
The invitations mount in a pile on the table. One follows him
around his house as gentle sighs, exhaling
the burden of his duties, the things he was expected to do
every day, the littlest of things you wouldn’t think were so heavy,
like making the bed or brushing his teeth,
day after day, ceaselessly.
Another arrives like a warning whistle
as he sits at his desk, his screen a streetlight
illuminating the tracks ahead, his day a cargo train,
car after black car, stretching endlessly
into the wild prairie with its hungry harvest, his gut burning
like a black coal, and the steam that keeps him chugging
can’t move up and out his pipes.
The last summons lands at his feet in a crumpled ball,
after his partner wonders aloud what they might enjoy for dinner, and he yells
back at her, not just testy, but mean and spiteful. Even this
tiniest and inconsequential of decisions feels like a billboard shouting.
He stares down at the paper, gazes up to her and collapses,
not physically into her arms but right there before her, he falls
into pieces, broken mirror littering the floor.
his heart finally stills
from the chase of all those invitations,
and the soft round world around him catches up.
It’s not that he’s given in or given up. It’s not like that.
It’s more like he put the barbell back into its rack along the wall
so life doesn’t hit him straight on, like he’s open enough
so that life moves through him.
He discovers that the world did not stop when he let go
of his load. The sun still shines gold in the sky and
clouds cast shadows on the sidewalk. He takes flight,
an eagle gliding on thermals high above the patchwork of earth,
unencumbered by life’s demands, no weights to carry.
For the moment, free.
And that is enough.
Get free of what blocks you.
Get free by empowering yourself to share your truth – bare, basic, brutal honesty.
Get free of your inhibitions and doubts and imposter ideas or second thoughts.
Get free by letting what turns up percolate like coffee, deepening their color and flavor, their scent rising and inspiring.
Get free of structure, format, rules, protocols, what you think is correct or good or desirable.
Get free by letting things be messy, striking things out, or not, squeezing things between words and ideas and along the margins and flowing onto the next page.
Get free by opening to what’s deep within you, scratching to get to the surface, whatever that is in there yelling against the walls of your being that no one can hear, although they have their ears pressed there waiting.
Get free by creating a safe space where you can roam like a rabbit whose squeezed through someone’s fence into a big flourishing garden.
Get free by stepping outside of your comfort zone and onto the big carnival rides that take you high into the sky, offering new perspective, shaking you up, bringing you down.
Get free by seizing the real stuff, not the crap your mind tells you to release; no, nothing ordinary or customary or sedentary.
Get free by letting go of what you think the world needs or what would be most helpful; no, push out the grimy, grubby, mucky and muddy stuff.
Get free by giving birth to what might be dying inside of you.
This poem was inspired by an Anaphora poetry prompt, where you repeat a word or words at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, or lines to create a sonic effect. It’s also part of a collection I put together called All the Shapes of Joy.
She let go.
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear. She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely,
without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a
book on how to let go… She didn’t search the scriptures.
She just let go.
She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her day-timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.
She just let go.
She didn’t analyse whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
I first experienced this poem when it was read out loud as part of the University of Iowa Holden Cancer Center Yoga practice I’ve been attending regularly since my breast cancer diagnosis almost 7 years ago. All of the instructors – Lisa, Teresa, Jessica, Helaina, and Abbey – are amazing and special people and they create a special sanctuary filled with healing energy.
The first class I attended in September 2011 was led by Abbey and I remember how gentle she was with us, how she the practice fed my soul, how I left feeling light and hopeful and alive. I’m unsure now how long ago it was that Abbey read this poem to us – it speaks to me frequently and I try to take it as sage advice when I feel afraid or angry or attached.
What helps you let go?
* I took this photo in Santa Clarita, CA when on a walk with my family.