Clapping With One Hand

“Holding On” is something I have always been good at.  Whether it be to an old t-shirt, a favorite vehicle or relationships – I am god at holding on.  What I have come to realize of late is how much energy it consumes to hold on.  It’s as exhausting as vigorously clapping with one hand!  So here about a year ago I began to pay attention to my relationships.  Which ones were nourishing?  Which ones were exhausting?  What was my part in each relationship?  How present was I?  How present was the other person?  What I discovered was very enlightening for me, and has given me a lesson in ‘letting go.’

I had one fiend I’ll call Joe because that’s his mane.  I have known Joe since 1978.  At one time we were very close – drinking buddies you might say.  Rarely did a day pass where we didn’t talk 3 to 4 times throughout the day, in addition o getting together for a ‘debriefing’ and a cold beer at the end of the day.  Joe was with me through the thick and thin of it all.  As the years have passed, and I moved away, we began moving apart.  I sensed it, and yet I held on.  Eventually I would only hear from Joe every 4 – 6 months, and typically, only when I called…

About 2 months ago I called Joe to catch up on things.  He was cordial as usual, but I felt he ‘wasn’t there’ in the conversation.  After 3 -4 minutes he received another call that he ‘had to take.’  “Call me sometime when you have time to talk” he remarked as he said goodbye.  Hell, that’s what I had just done.  I felt as if I were clapping with one hand when I hung up…

Since Joe is a very busy person I shot him an email a couple-3 days later.  I thanked him for being my friend for all those years, wished him further success, and said goodbye.  I was ‘complete’ with him.  I also extended an invitation for him to call em sometime, when he had time to talk, thereby leaving the door open for him.  No anger, no remorse, no resentment.  I allowed myself to feel gratitude and acknowledge the blessing of having him in my life for the time he was – and let go…

Ever call someone you haven’t talked to for a while only to hear, “Oh, I was just thinking of you!”  Or, “I was just about to call you!”  Once or twice, well, okay; but repeatedly over time, there’s a message there.  And it took me a long time to get it, because I wasn’t willing to “let go.”  I was forever “hanging on,” hoping…  And, in my subconscious, I knew it!  It always rang hollow: “I was just thinking of you…” but I chose to ignore it, knowing all the while I was just clapping with one hand.

There’s a guy in the Fellowship (of AA) who’s company I really enjoy.  When I would call him and suggest lunch, very often we would get together and have lunch, and great conversation.  Then I noticed, if I didm;t call him, I wouldn’t had from him either.  Rather than create a resentment, I talked with him about this to which he explained, “Because of your schedule (I was till flying at the time) I never know when you ar chime.”  I didn’t have to explore my subconscious to notice how hollow this sounded!  And it also hurt.  Another opportunity to ‘let go…’

With each of these relationships I was able to let go, without resentment.  Today when these folks ‘walk through my mind,’ I welcome them with warmth, for my brief association with them.  I don’t shut them out.  I acknowledge them for the blessings they brought to my life, and I offer a prayer for their well being and happiness.  And I let them go.  In this I’ve discovered I create space for new friends and for new relationships that were not possible while I was so desperately holding on; holding on to the Past…

Today I rejoice for these new relationships by clapping with both hands!

Feb. 2004


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