Letting go is a place you know
With lots of space and rooms to grow
And gaps of time where all are mine
To do and be my most divine
— Natalie Calia, 10.14.86
I wrote that poem a very long time ago and the essence of it’s meaning holds true for me today. It reflects on “loss” which comes in all shapes, colors and creeds and the gap/chasm that’s left behind. Loss does not discriminate, as it touches on every single one of us from the moment we exit the safe and serene pouch in our mother’s belly: that is our very first loss — of comfort, home, familiarity, connection. And, so, “loss”, in it’s various expressions is a reality of life and it behoves us to find the tools and skills to adapt/process when it shows up, being fearless and looking into that resulting gap/chasm and allow something new to evolve and grow. Cultivating this skill just may be the single most important ability we learn in order to live a flourishing life.
One of my dearest friends, Kathryn, is relocating back to her home-town of Baltimore and her departure has stirred up lots of feelings over these weeks and days. Of course, I support her intuition that this move is fundamental to her journey and so it must be to mine as well. Taking a pause and allowing these feelings to surface and ripple as they so often do has become a familiar experience in my life. With almost 60 years of living, I have finally learned to trust the gap/chasm that is left behind; a “place” that I get to go to and recreate and call it mine. Allowing the mystery to continue to move me forward.
Somber as this subject might appear to be, it can also be an extraordinarily exciting, creative and rich experience and so that brings me to some of the other things we let go of like food, drink, socializing, beliefs, jobs, relationships, hobbies, health, habits, youth, etc. and how we might find the growth that results from this kind of mindful deep work.
I recall a conversation from my past when a friend counseled that, “when you give up/loose something (by choice or not), you need to find a replacement (ideally, a healthy replacement!)”…. Relevant to this subject, “replacement” is used loosely and broadly as there are many, many people, relations, places and things that simply can not be “replaced” but we do find a way to fill/narrow the gap/chasm that’s left behind from letting go.
When dialoging with people about the Paleo path, there is so much resistance to “letting go” of anything from the nightly glass of wine to the chunk of cheese or piece of cake. Certainly, if your body welcomes these habits, then there’s no need to let go of them but it’s an interesting challenge to weigh the value of the desire with the value of well-being. No one can make that choice for you; only you can. I gave up dairy and grains because my allergies were debilitating. I was constantly blowing my nose, taking over-counter-medication, energy was inconsistent resulting in fluctuating weight gain. So, when the first weeks of no dairy and no grains resulted in the disappearance of congestion, increase in energy, weight loss… THAT was what filled the chasm left by the loss of dairy and grain. For me, well-being, was the replacement.
In my case, the Paleo lifestyle also brought all this creativity around food preparation. The pioneers in this way of eating were smart enough to realize that people want certain flavors and textures and if science was suggesting that removing dairy and grains from one’s diet had great health benefits, well, they had to figure out how to replace those flavors and textures aiding people to not feel like they were “letting go” of so much! And so for me the nut creams substitute for dairy, my cauli-rice substitutes for rice, almond/coconut flours substitute just fine for wheat, the texture of zucchini and spaghetti squash work for pasta. The recipes have expanded my palette in ways I would never have thought and so I am actually eating more vegetables and now have a knack of combining stuff that I would never have thought to in the past.
The better I feel, the narrower the chasm becomes and the letting go is just yesterday’s news!