The news was official: Hurricane Sandy was coming, and we all needed to take the threat seriously. As individuals and businesses made preparations, I found the following snippet in my Facebook News Feed:
“Let the power of the winds carry away all that is no longer serving you.”
What a beautiful perspective! While we were rushing to stockpile water and take cover, Mother Nature was reminding us to focus on what’s important and prepare to let go of what isn’t.
Is it any coincidence that hurricanes are most prolific in the fall- when the green leaves of summer turn rusty and the trees let them go? And how many of us take this process for granted without stopping to consider why this happens and what it means?
I’m no botanist, but I understand that it’s necessary for trees to drop their leaves. For one thing, the trees have to conserve resources due to the impending cold days of winter. If the leaves lingered through the snowy season, the branches would become too weighted under the white stuff and they’d break off- thus, resulting in a shortage of squirrel highways, bird suburbias and human jungle gyms. In short: trees have to undergo an annual shedding in order to maximize their potential and maintain a healthy balance in the world we share.
But there’s another, equally important side to this process: the dropped foliage isn’t wasted. When the tiny leaves conglomerate on the forest floor, they act as insulation to protect the roots of those mighty oaks and massive maples. As time goes by, the once-lush vegetation turns to compost which nourishes the structure from which it was born. Again, the tree grows stronger from that which it has released.
We humans can learn a lot from the sycamores that surround us, but we frequently choose not to. As our own seasons change, jobs become work … relationships turn sour … loved ones pass on. And when this happens, we are often so caught up in our dramatic stories that we neglect to hear the whisper of ancient rhythms reminding us to “let go”.
Letting go is scary! The idea of doing so strikes a match to the desperate fears deep within us: What if I can’t find another way to pay the bills? … What if I end up alone forever? … What if s/he disappears completely?
We forget to stop, open our clenched fists and breathe. We forget that naked trees are awarded periods of exquisite beauty as they stand tall and peaceful, bathed in fresh snow. We forget that hurricane victims learn to stop hoarding and start loving. We forget that the equation will balance in the end.
More often, we should consider the lessons that nature demonstrates for us every day. We should have faith that nothing is lost as we all grow and are nourished by the experiences that fall at our feet. Perhaps it would be helpful to shift our phrasing from “let go of that which does not serve you.” To say instead, “let go and allow this to serve you in a different way.”