Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

The Sadness of Letting Go

No one tells you
There is a sadness
When all is left behind
Although shed willingly
Touch lingers
A last caress
Of what was once a treasure
There is no going back
Nor would you want to
Yet there were moments
When happiness kissed your lips
And longing stirred your soul
When the dream sang sweetly
And illusion beckoned beauty

Someone asked me recently if we grieve letting go of ideas. Any letting go is a loss, even if the release is voluntary and in many ways a relief. We expect to experience grief when a loved one dies, when a relationship ends, when illness strikes. We might not be so quick to recognize the veil of sadness that drapes our shedding of outgrown beliefs or ideas.

The Dao De Jing teaches that in pursuit of knowledge, every day something is acquired, while in pursuit of Dao, every day something is released. We release the things we thought we knew, our beliefs about what is good or bad, our certainty about how things should be, even our definition of who we are. A moment of awakening is liberating. And while it is often a moment of transcendent joy, you might find yourself looking back at the receding shore with a touch of compassion and nostalgia, because you know that “chopping wood and carrying water,” as the saying goes, will never be the same.

It’s okay to give yourself permission to acknowledge the loss, to honor what is left behind, to thank whoever and whatever has brought you to this moment. Pure awareness judges nothing, excludes nothing, but rather welcomes everything, everything, with the tender touch of love and a humble bow of gratitude.

Whispering, This too, this too.

6 thoughts on “The Sadness of Letting Go”

  1. esther elizabeth

    Well said — We might not be so quick to recognize the veil of sadness that drapes our shedding of outgrown beliefs or ideas.
    I think every loss, every change both good or not so good, is accompanied by grief.

    1. Yes, I think it is too. It used to puzzle me why I would feel sad about a change that I had wanted. Now I see that it is still a loss of what was before. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I love this exquisite expression of a thought. The words are beautiful. Loss is always a sadness, no matter how it presents itself. Someone, something, or the dream of such.

  3. This reminds me of the phrase, ‘the turn within’ where illusions and long cherised wants/needs/beliefs are too damaging to hold on to and in the end one has to turn away from them and let them go for the sake of one’s inner spirit and well being. I know that in counselling training any change involves letting go and a grieving process is deemed inevitable. This kind of letting go can be dramatic, which I had to go through in my 50s. But on a lighter level, it can mean seeing something or feeling something so beautiful (perhaps with the natural world) that you don’t want that moment to ever end, but of course it does, and then can be a loss, but one which you can look back on with solace and joy. That kind of letting go can strengthen you for changes to come. Lovely post, Galen, so glad I tuned into this one. And the poem and picture are so fitting. Cheers for now :>)

    1. You describe that beautifully, Lynne. We can understand the Buddhist teaching that everything is impermanent. We can accept that intellectually, and even embrace it. And along with it, there is still loss, and the experience of that loss. This is the awakening of compassion. Thanks for commenting.

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