Letting Go and Believing
I’m a Capricorn, and my brain runs on pragmatism, even when it comes to mysticism. I’ve been wrestling with it for years now, and I’ve come to believe that the only practical option that makes sense for my heart is to believe in a higher power. To trust that some greater, wiser force is conducting the reigns of my life. That everything’s meant to be and is happening as it should.
This idea grates against every bit of my skeptical Capricorn nature. I have railed against this notion through good times and bad, since I was raised a staunch Catholic and since I’ve been recovering from it. I have declared myself time and again a self-made man in the face of fate. I’ve spat on the idea that my life is according to some master plan.
But, practically speaking, I now believe that trusting in a higher power is the only way that makes sense for me.
Because the opposite is to believe that the world is a chaotic place, in which I truly have little to no control over what befalls me, and the only resource I’ve got is my own willpower and efforts to stay afloat. I’ve lived that way, gritting my teeth in the face of disappointment and setbacks, and it’s left me exhausted and spinning in circles, feeling older than I am. I’ve reflected on how most of the greatest opportunities and moments of my life have happened by happenstance or synchronicity anyway. The times when I’ve ground at that grindstone have rarely gotten me anywhere.
It all comes back to this maxim that an intuitive magic man named Kurt Hill from Chicago told me once: “Life isn’t about how much you can take on. It’s about how much you can let go.”
For a driven-hustler-achiever-type like me, that idea is infuriating. I want to have the career of my dreams. I want to experience earth-shattering romance. I want to unleash my creativity and create great works of art. I want to be respected by my peers and my industry. I want to have moments I laugh so hard with best friends that I think I’m going to die, and I want to have these moments often.
I could wrack my brain trying to figure out why I’ve never been in love. I could up my effort to pursue and find a guy and probably just come across as a desperate monster. My married friend told me the other day, “Stop looking, and it will come to you, when you’re not looking for it.” I know — a million people swear by this maxim, so it must be right! I hate the idea of letting go of the pursuit, but I’m out of poker chips and out of patience with trying to force a good hand. If it’s a game, I just have to accept the cards I’m working with, and stop bluffing to get what I want.
I could throw my mother’s sudden death on my 31st birthday into the equation — how could such a horrible event be part of some master plan? But it’s the reason the I got out of Chicago; it got me to leave a depressing job and reignite my life in New York City. It’s the direct reason I adopted my wonder dog Star, who has brought so much joy into my life. It reshaped me through pain into something more complicated and adult. It put me in touch with dark things I’d buried; it hurt — but I grew from it, so I’m grateful for my mother’s death too. I can stop viewing life as just win or lose. I can be grateful even when life is cruel or unfair — because these setbacks have taught me so much. And — I’m going to say it — I believe it was meant to happen.
I must add that I am only speaking for myself. It is not my place to declare a purpose beyond everything for the world as a whole, where people suffer and struggle through far worse than I can comprehend. I can only frame my own life this way, and see how it changes my view.
To be honest, at the root of this decision — I’m just tired. I’m worn out from putting my entire destiny on my shoulders. After years of attacking life like this, I’ve found myself pining for the endgame — the goal posts — and losing energy to even play the game anymore. My fixation on “making it” by my own boot straps has left me bitter and obsessing over the end result and replaying missed opportunities. Hating the process; hating the journey to get there. And if I hate or doubt the path I’m on, it means that practically I’m miserable most of the time.
So, I’m surrendering. I‘m giving up my stubborn belief that I’m the only one responsible for my life, that sheer effort can bend it to my will. I’m going to take things slower, and savor them more, and refocus my efforts on the process of living and experiencing the wonders of every day. I’m going to worry less about where this is all headed. And trust that by letting go, I’ll open myself up to whatever higher power there is up there to guide my way. Who knows if that higher power exists — I have no specific idea of what it is, but I don’t need to label it or figure it out. For once, I’m just going to believe.
I can stop responding to challenges by pushing harder. Lord knows I’ve made so many situations worse by pushing for what I wanted or thought I deserved when I could have just let it go. This doesn’t mean I’m letting go of effort. It just means I’m letting go of expecting a certain result or reward or direct payoff. I’m going to trust that things are unfolding at the rate they are unfolding, and I’m not going to worry about it beyond that.
Because when I look at all the options to live my life, this is only the way to let go of pretending I have control over things I don’t have control of. This is the way, I think, to be a happier person. We’ll see.