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The Moment of Letting Go
by Stewart Blackburn

Don't cry because it is over. Smile because it happened.
Dr. Seuss

I don't think that most of us notice the very moment when we go from accepting the fact that one pleasure is finished and we are now ready for the next one. But I find that moment to be very interesting. We come to a place where we are no longer satisfied with what is. The pleasure may have dissipated so much that it no longer feels particularly good, or we may see an even greater pleasure around the corner, or perhaps we are simply ready for something different. In any case there is a subtle shift in us. Something inside has pushed us to move on, perhaps reluctantly.

With so many opportunities available, recognized or not, these are the little moments when the choices we have made and the rules we have created about what is possible, and what is not, come into play. How we are crafting our lives reveals itself here. In each of these special moments we reset ourselves, we change the direction of our lives a little. I believe that at these moments we are trying to get a little closer to fulfilling some deeper desire, one that probably has never been voiced, but which has been calling us for a long time. We get closer every time we go from unsatisfactoriness to something that looks to be more pleasurable. Each time we try to make our lives a little better, each time we pay attention to what we want, we learn a little bit more about ourselves and bring ourselves into alignment with our core being just a little bit more. It is in these moments when we can most easily hear what I refer to as our "Calls to Wholeness."

One of the key pieces to letting go of some pleasure is to admit that those marvelous experiences that we enjoyed so much are over. When we are feeling sad or, more deeply, feeling grief, we are feeling a kind of anger that things have changed when we didn't want them to. Sometimes we feel that we have been robbed in some way, that there has been a great injustice done, that this isn't right. However, the longer we hold on to that anger, the longer we get to feel the effects of it. These effects are familiar to all of us: tiredness, mild to severe depression, pessimism, etc.

Acknowledging that things have changed is a gift we give to ourselves. It is an act of kindness that soothes our soul even while it opens the door to uncertainty. We know the truth of it but find that truth unpalatable. This is one of those special times when we need to take care of ourselves as we would a sick child. The more tender we can be, the more gentle, caring, and loving, the more effective we will be in the long run. Not only are we acknowledging that things have changed, but that we have changed as well. The parts of our world that we have cherished are different now. We have come to know a part within us that we love (even though the object of our love may be someone or something outside of us.) Even if we remember that we will always be able to cherish this person or thing, it seems as though we've lost part of who we are. It may take a certain amount of courage to face ourselves in the light of this or these changes. But we can do it.

Acknowledging the changes is the magical key that opens other doors to joy. Without that key we are locking ourselves out of our rightful happiness.

So how do we put all of this together to let go of pleasures that have come to an end? I recommend a three-step process: gratitude, acknowledgment of change, and resetting for new pleasures. This is the time to invoke the magic of gratitude thoroughly, taking as much time as we need to in order to feel it fully. Then, when we feel ready, we say, preferably out loud, that we acknowledge that things have changed. The effect is more powerful when we can physically hear ourselves say what is in our mind.

A sample statement might look like this: "I give thanks for all the joy I had with (whoever or whatever we are letting go of.) And I know now that things have changed. I now turn my focus towards all the new joys ahead of me."

Gratitude and acknowledgment that things have changed leave us in a place that is perfect for looking forward to the next opportunity for pleasure. By having given us closure on one chapter, we are ready to open a new one. This is the process of resetting ourselves and it is basically a change of focus. When we have that emotional sense of the completion of the last experience, we can look around us, savor what we are experiencing in the present moment and then move on. We can move back into our adventurer mode to see what else lies out there to discover.

There is nothing wrong with leaving the past behind. It was great (or not), but it's not today. We don't owe the past anything. It is life already lived. Now is the time for new life. If we hold our focus well, we can be confident that the joys to come will be even better than the ones we have experienced so far. Resetting ourselves means relaxing into the openness of infinite possibilities. At some level we are initiating a new adventure. Remembering the pleasures of adventure and joys of new connections helps us to walk away from the past with confidence and hope.

Stewart can be reached at shamanofpleasure@gmail.com. His website is www.stewartblackburn.com.

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