Subtract to Add

A number of years ago, I was having dinner in a restaurant with a colleague of mine. Bill was 30 years my senior and had just found out that a good friend of his died. At one point during the meal, he began to weep quietly... and then he looked at me and sighed, "Now I know more people in heaven than on earth."


When my parents moved to Florida in 1991, my mom used to say she was going to God's green room (in talk show verbiage, that's the name of the place guests wait before they go on stage)... a humorous way of describing her post-retirement life before God would call her. I'm grateful that she had 10 years to enjoy the garden, warmth and new friends she made in the sunshine state.


And now here I am closer to 60 than 50 and AARP has been sending me lots of stuff! The older I get the more I realize that one aspect of life is about letting go.

  • Letting go of junk you'll never use

  • Letting go of friends who don't call back

  • Letting go of old ideas that maybe were never, ever any good (!)

  • Letting go of old grievances and stale regrets

  • Letting go of judgment and opinions that only feed the ego

Did you ever hear that sad and empty saying used among consumeristic competitive people:

He who dies with the most toys wins!

Perhaps we can learn from the dilemma babies have when they have learned to hold but not release: in one hand they grip a rattle and then you offer them a cheerio. For a while they look back and forth at the rattle and then at the cereal. You can visualize their mind processing wanting the food but not being able to with their hand full.


I've heard of a certain type of monkey that is easy to catch. You only have to put peanuts into a hole smaller than the size of its closed fist. Once the monkey smells the delight, it sticks a hand in, grabs ahold of the peanuts but can't pull its arm out for the size of the hole; the trapper can then transfer it to another area of the park.


Author Neale Donald Walsh once said, “You cannot let go of anything if you cannot notice that you are holding it.”


St. Francis says that unless we do our first death now (grieving our losses and failures and imperfections), the second death (our bodily one) will be very difficult.


Here's to practicing letting go now so that we can honor and love those we've lost while also living as fully as we can now.