Some people believe holding on and hanging in there
are signs of great strength.
However, there are times when it takes much more strength
to know when to let go and then do it.
— Ann Landers
In any context, letting go can be a painful (but sometimes necessary) part of life. On the flip side, letting go can free us in much the same way that forgiving does. Have there been times in your life when you let something go and felt better for it?
In many ways, the past informs the present, but letting go is about much more than the past. Importantly, letting go is about freeing ourselves from fears, from impractical expectations, from uncertainties about ourselves, and it’s about affirming our value in the world.
This week, write a poem about a time that you let go.
1. Is there a dream you’ve let go?
2. Is there a person or group of people you’ve let go? Have you ever ended a relationship that wasn’t working? Have you ever deliberately said “good-bye” to someone or something and felt better (or worse) for having done so?
3. Has there been a job you had to let go?
4. Have you ever let go of any personality traits, ways of thinking, old habits?
5. Has there ever been a hurt or an anger that you let go?
6. Has there ever been something that you couldn’t let go?
7. Is there something (or someone) in your life right now that you’ve thought about letting go?
1. A poem should astonish its readers, either with an amazing story, with a unique view of something, or with insights that challenge (or change) the reader’s thinking.What insights can you share about letting go? What can you "let go" in your poem?
2. Your poem should contain at least one image or idea that takes the reader’s breath away.
3. Work on a sense of immediacy (even when you write in the past tense).
4. Stay away from the passive voice, and be wary of words that end in “ing.”
5. Be specific—avoid abstractions and generalizations. Imagery is key. Write about things, not ideas. William Carlos Williams wrote: “No ideas but in things.” Tell it “like it is” in specifics, not through philosophical musings on the “meaning of it all.
6. Work on a dismount that elicits a “wow.”
This beautiful poem by my dear friend Linda Radice (1952-2017) describes having to "let go" of the family home in which she grew up and which she loved.
Little Enough by Linda Radice
I don’t know why I drive by the house.
The new owners painted over my mother’s
blue doors, butchered her beloved Chinese Maple.
They tore off the steps my dad built. The circle
of rhododendron bushes my brother and I played in
were ripped out by the roots, discarded
with ivy yanked from the brick on the shadiest
side. The light colored roof was replaced
by a black one; the peak over the porch is gone.
There is little left familiar enough to call home.
Maybe the spruce my grandfather planted the year
I was born knew something I don’t. It fell in a
hurricane just months before the sale, barely brushedthe house, dented a gutter, gave in gracefully.