Friday, September 16, 2011

"Why didn't you let go?"

When I was an early teen, a friend invited me for a day of recreational boating with her family. I was beside myself with excitement to spend a fun-filled Saturday out on the water with friends! I had never been on a boat outing, but I had heard the many virtues of water-skiing from my friends and I was dying to try it.

I made a lot of good memories that day, but something happened when I made my first attempt at water-skiing that has left a lasting impression upon my mind.

As I climbed down into the water, my friend and her family gave me a full tutorial, complete with a warning that the initial pull of the boat would be profound. But while I expected it to be a good firm yank, I still wasn’t quite prepared for how strong it actually was. When the boat finally took off, my 13-year-old body immediately flung out of the water, and I was violently slapped face down into the water and dragged for what seemed like a mile. All the while, I was screaming futilely amid mouthfuls of water, “STOP! STOP!”

Eventually the boat did stop, to my half-drown relief. I basked in the intense elation of near escape from death for about 1 second before the murderous explosions of anger set in. As the boat turned to retrieve me, I was fanning the flames of my rage. How DARE they drag me around for their amusement! I might have drowned! I am going to give them a piece of my mind! They will PAY!

As soon as they were within earshot, I shouted, “WHY would you drag me around like that? You nearly KILLED me!”

Then came the haunting reply, “Why didn’t YOU let go?!”

All my burning flames of indignation were instantly exhausted like a small match thrown into a raging sea of my own foolishness. While I had been shouting “STOP!” they had been shouting, “LET GO!” And it never occurred to me that my safety had literally been in my own hands the entire time! I had clung to that handle as if my life depended on it, when in actuality all I had to do was release it.

Isn’t that just like life?

How many times have I held on to anger, resentment, sadness, and pain like I clung onto that water-skiing handle? How many times have I blamed someone or something else for my struggles and problems?

I’m irritable because someone cut me off in traffic. I have pain because of stress. I’m offended because someone didn’t act the way I thought they should. I’m angry because someone was hateful to me. I failed because I had a bad teacher. Come to think of it, NONE of the problems I experience are my fault! I am a victim and I’m entitled to my negative emotions!

“Stop! Stop! I’m drowning!”

Wait a minute…perhaps I haven’t stopped reacting long enough to realize that if someone or something else is responsible for everything that’s wrong in my life, then I have to wait around until that someone or something changes so that I can feel better.  

Why wait for the boat to stop? Just let go! Take back your life and respond instead with love, peace, joy, forgiveness, and/or kindness. Choose not to blame others. Choose not to be offended. Supplant revenge with release. Don’t forget YOU are holding the handle!

Dr. Wayne Dyer: “Think about every single person who has ever harmed you, cheated you, defrauded you, or said unkind things about you. Your experience of them is nothing more than a thought that you carry around with you. These thoughts of resentment, anger, and hatred represent slow, debilitating energies that will disempower you.

“Send love in some form to those you feel have wronged you and notice how much better you feel, how much more peace you have. … There are no justified resentments.”
--Excerpt from 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace, p. 114-116

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