JUST LET GO...
I’ve always been interested in spirituality and personal development, but there are a couple of things that rile me:
1. Reference to The Universe as in ‘The Universe will provide...'
2. Any mention of The Secret: I hated this film, particularly the angelic chords which accompanied each speaker’s pronouncement, and the way they portrayed The Law of Attraction by showing a girl yearning for a gold necklace in a jeweller’s window, and - having presumably discovered The Secret and applied it - the said necklace being placed around her neck by a tall, dark, handsome man.
3. Being told by people to Just Let Go.
Just let go? Just let go?!?! The implication appears to be that it’s easy. And that this is The Answer to everything - if you are only wise enough to know what the speaker knows. Which may be The Secret. Or perhaps The Universe provides The Answer to The Secret.
Forgive me. This is cynical. In fact I do believe, wholeheartedly, in certain energetic phenomena. And I do believe that there is an intelligent force at work in life. It’s just that sometimes truths deteriorate, through over-use and under-examination, into lazy cliches.
I’m preoccupied with Letting Go at the moment, since I may be selling up and leaving my home of almost 7 years in Cornwall and moving to…er, I’m not sure where yet. I look at my beautiful little house with its direct views over the river, and wonder – sometimes - what I’m doing. No doubt I will also need to look at each of my possessions and decide which to take with me and which to let go of. Some things are easy: the clothes that are old, no longer fit or have never been worn; the books I know I’ll never read again. But what of the lifetime’s accumulation of journals which have accompanied me everywhere, yet which I’ve barely looked at since writing them? What of all the paintings and drawings which will never be sold or hung but which represent years, collectively, of work? What of the four or so printed drafts of my first novel?
Which brings me, somewhat circuituously, to my point. I was saddened to read a blog post by Ian Hocking, author of Déjà Vu and a further three novels, all of which his (very good) agent has tried hard, but unsuccessfully, to sell. Please drop over to his blogsite, This Writing Life and have a read. Ian has decided to call it a day. To let go of writing with the aim of being published, after fifteen years of striving, and - with his first book - succeeding. The right decision? Who can say. A forever decision? Ditto. This may be one of the hardest examples of letting go. And there’s no ‘just’ about it. In any sense.
Have you ever thought of ‘just’ giving up writing? Have you ever managed to do so? Can you imagine ever wanting to? Writing demands sacrifice, effort, energy, passion and time. As Ian says, it also makes demands on other people in the writer’s life – the partner, the children, the friends. It demands a certain wholeheartedness, at least whilst it’s being practised, which necessitates shutting out the world. And if all this effort and energy is directed into a practice which is not rewarded in the traditional sense, just how long can someone continue to do it? No wonder so many writers squeeze their writing into the fag-ends of their days so that others won’t be too inconvenienced. No wonder they practise their writing as if it were some form of guilty secret, carried out late at night while the family sleeps, early in the morning before they wake, or during precious moments while the baby naps, the children are at school. No wonder that there comes a time when a writer decides it’s time to let go.
The thing about letting go is – and yes, I know this may be seen as another new-age cliché, but it’s one I recognise and believe in – it opens up a space for new things to enter. The I Ching calls this the empty fertile space. Without such spaces in our lives, new things cannot be born. We may be full, but we aren’t fulfilled. So I wish Ian Hocking everything fresh and new: I wish that his spirit may be refreshed and his writing self renewed. I wish that what he next gives birth to is his greatest work so far – whatever that may be.
Ian Hocking’s decision is courageous. The word ‘courage’ stems from the word for ‘heart’. It takes courage to write. And it takes a very particular kind of courage to stop.