Dani Shapiro
March 26, 2014

On Letting Go

I’m writing this in a hotel room in New York City.  Morning sun casts a glow across the bed.  My little laptop is nestled into a pillow.  Around me, silence, and at least for the moment, I can feel myself slowing down.  The pace, the pace of the past months has been a bit like the weather here on the East Coast: relentless, unpredictable, surprising.  And as is the case when the pace of our lives moves faster than we’re able to understand, I have been out of touch with my inner life.  Last night, I took myself to a yoga class taught be a wonderful teacher with whom I’ve become friends,, but have never practiced with.  In a cavernous room, on my mat, amidst strangers, I felt space open up inside me that has been inaccessible for a while.  It’s hard to define this space.  We all need to find it.  Sometimes we touch upon it — and when we do, it’s like pressing upon a tender spot, a bruise, a discomfort, but one that is somehow welcome and necessary.  And if we don’t allow ourselves to feel…well, we know what happens, don’t we?  Whether in slow motion or at warp speed, we end up in trouble.  Disconnected.  We are distanced from our very hearts, from the true nature of our minds.  From the place where we are most ourselves.

Notice I say we.

Notice that I am veering away from the “I” even as I lie here in the hotel bed.  Because tears spring to my eyes as I write these words.  As the space opens up.  As I inhale and feel my lungs fill, exhale and let it all go.  I have been holding on so tightly.  It has felt, to me, like the only way.  This has been a time of uncertainty in so many ways.  Questions have swirled around me.  Will Still Writing find its readers?  Will people still be reading books ten years from now?  Will my husband’s film find a distributor?  Will my son move to a different school next year?  Will that be the right decision?  In the absence of having answers to any of these question, I clenched my jaw, balled my fists, and forged forward, a warrior.  I woke up in the middle of the night, teeth grinding.  I hit the ground running each morning and never looked up until the day’s chores and responsibilities were finished.  Nights, I searched for ways to hit the off switch and silence the anxious chatter in my head.  Even as I write this, I want to delete it.  I don’t want to tell the truth about the way I have been living on the inside, even while, on the outside, I have been traveling, teaching, speaking, and — dare I say it? — helping people.  Of course, it’s easier to help others than to help oneself.

I know this much: the answer is found in the breath.  The answer is found in living in the questions.  The answer is that there is no answer.  There is only ordinary life, which is full of stumbling blocks and unexpected grace.  Full of weather.  As the sun casts my bed aglow, I feel the space that has begun to open inside me, and fight the urge to grasp that too, to make it stay.  Today, my little book on writing is finding its way in the world.  My husband’s movie will open next month.  My son will go to a new school next year.  Today, tears are springing to my eyes because I feel the grace inherent in letting go.  In trusting the free fall we call life.  In the fleeting awareness that this dive is all we have, and that the truest measure of grace is in stretching arms wide open, and pushing off the ledge.