A couple weeks ago I was in Southern California for a conference. I spent five days oceanside in the Laguna area. I looked forward to ducking out of the conference between sessions to feel the warm sun on my face and listen to the powerful waves crashing over the rocks to the shore.
I’ve been drawn to the ocean for as long as I can remember. Living in a northern land-locked state (I’m almost in Canada, dontchya know), I am intentional about finding my way to the beach at least once a year. I find healing there. It feels like home. The ocean has always been a place of renewal for me. A place to center my mind and heart. A place where I can take all that is weighing me down, and let that shit go. I was looking forward to doing just that while watching the rhythmic dance of the ocean. In with the good, out with the bad.
I’ve been in a difficult season of late and a few weeks ago, prior to this trip, a friend asked me how I was doing. As I thought about her question, I envisioned myself standing shoreside looking out into turquoise blue waters, watching the incoming and outgoing current colliding. And then I realized the metaphor of my life in that moment. I replied, “Better. You know, the pain is still there. But little by little, it’s washing out to sea with the waves, and as it does, I start to feel better. And refreshed knowing as the bad washes out to sea, more good will flow in.”
It all became clearer in that moment. This season of my life. All the seasons of my life. We must get rid of the bad, that which weighs us down, to make room for the good. Simple in theory, right? A bit harder in practice. But I realized this, although not a simple task to embrace the value of letting go, it is one I could be more intentional about living and applying.
As I was packing for my trip, I thought about the conversation with my friend and had an idea on how to practice the intention of letting go. I wanted to get rid of some of the heavy stuff I’d been carrying around. I grabbed a Sharpie and threw it in my bag.
The Plan of Letting Go
The day after the conference ended, I walked along the shores of this beautiful beach with a friend who drove up from San Diego to visit. We hadn’t seen each another in about five years. We spent a lovely morning at breakfast rehashing all the happenings in our lives since we last saw one another. The rest of the day spent oceanside alternately walking along the beach and relaxing on it; absorbing the spa-like treatment of the warmth of the sun resting upon your shoulders, the salty air settling against your skin and the refreshing sound of waves rolling onto shore. At one point that morning, I shared my plan with her. To find a few beautiful rocks to write on, and use that Sharpie to list the things I wanted to let go of.
The Act of Letting Go
We walked along the shore sharing our hearts and laughing like long time friends do. We found some rocks along the way and sat down to ponder what we each wanted to write. I decided not to over think it. To write down what came to me first, the words that were heavy burdens on my heart and soul. I would write the things that make my spirit lighter if I am able to let them go. I wanted to be able to shed these things like a snake does its skin.
“Snakes shed their skin to allow for further growth and to remove parasites that may have attached to their old skin.”
Exactly this. I wanted growth. I wanted to rid myself of the parasites attacking my spirit and my soul.
I picked up the Sharpie and I wrote:
I feel unbearable weight just writing those words. My body feels heavy. As if I was to walk, I’d have to drag my feet. Legs heavy as lead. Shoulders slouched forward, my back hunched. Head down. Sadness. Heaviness. An aching heart. A restrained spirit. A darkened soul. The burden of these words is great. And I was tired of carrying them.
Once my rock was completed, I looked at it. The weight of it palpable. It felt heavier now.
I closed my eyes. And said a prayer. A prayer asking for help to rid me of this darkness. I want to be lighter, feel lighter, live lighter. I want my soul to expand from an unlit wick to a wild and bright flame.
I am ready.
I hold the rock in both hands. Look out to sea. And begin walking to the waves crashing against the shore. I pause. Inhale deeply. I move forward with positive momentum. Raising my hand and releasing the rock and all its dark, burdensome weight to sea.
Exuberance. Lightness. Hope.
I am free of this burden. There is no need for me to carry it anymore. There never was.
My previously unlit soul is on fire again.
And I am ready for growth and expansion.