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On Letting It Go

The Personal Growth industry has a million different takes on how to experience peace and happiness, how to find inner balance and how to “let it go”. And while we might feel transformed and inspired in a workshop, it’s often tough to remember in the heat of the moment to use the tools we spent thousands of dollars on. Which is why it’s an enormous benefit to have a partner on the same page as yourself. Not simply someone who agrees with you all the time, but an intelligent, individual who graciously reminds you of the tools we have learned and that are available at any time.

Tommy Transit knows how to overcome Melancholia (name of statue).

Traveling offers us numerous opportunities to apply the personal growth tools we have learned. At my tender age (in my  seventh decade) it is easy for me to take offense at being told what to do by the blue suits at airports who are half my age. Having a partner with more patience is helpful as Michele is able to calm me with a few gentle words or gestures and help me find my balance again, making the transition through airport security smoother and less stressful.

A few days ago, we were staying with friends in Toulouse and it was only on the airplane that Michele noticed that her wallet was missing. Fact: while racing down the runway there is NOTHING you can do about a lost wallet. So, instead, we settle into the roar of the engines while our minds conjure up all kinds of possible scenarios. We thought about the thin, young man a few feet away in the airport restaurant, smiling nervously when he got up to leave. What about the middle-aged businessman sitting beside us on the plane who was irritated by our jumping up for restroom use? Could either of them be slick pickpockets? The more we reviewed, the more apparent it was that the wallet never left our friends’ home. So now: what about the curious 19 month old baby who perhaps put the wallet in her dollhouse? Or the cats playing with the string on the wallet and dragging it under a couch? Again our minds were having a heyday with all the possibilities.

And yet, we were in good hands. Michele keeps her passport in a different spot than her wallet, which allowed us to get onto the flight. Good tip! Secondly, she was traveling with me and my cards and cash are always lovingly accessible to her. Meditating on all these varying options allowed us to relax a little. Fact: a relaxed mind is happier and from this place of ‘somewhat’ tranquility it is easier to make better decisions.

Day two of being wallet-less, as we wander the old town in Geneva it is apparent that despite putting on a calm face, Michele is becoming more and more agitated as texts arrive saying that the wallet cannot be found. Without intending to, her upset becomes even more magnified by my light-hearted antics. Nothing I say or do is making it better. Knowing that she needs some alone time, I give her some distance following a few hundred feet behind. At one point I lose sight of her. Down a set of steps is a beautiful old church in a plaza and sure enough as I slip into the back pew I see her sitting quietly near the front. After about fifteen minutes she comes to the back and hugs me, apologizing for ‘snipping at me’. “I realize the reason I’ve been so cranky is that I hate myself for losing the wallet, for being so stupid, for being mean to you. I’m so sorry. I love you,” she says with tears in her eyes. We talk quietly with the wisdom of the centuries floating about us. Together we agree to “just let it go”: the frustration, the worry and the wallet too. As we do this, the sweetness that is our usual way of being together makes us feel relaxed, lighter, happier.

Two minutes later—a mere two minutes—as I hold open the door for other tourists, I hear my cellphone ‘ping’. Standing in the warm sun of the plaza I see the message from Toulouse, “We found it!”

We stand amazed and look incredulously at each other. Within minutes of consciously agreeing to just “let it go”, it was as though there was a magnetic connection between our inner resolve and the discovery of the wallet. Not only was it a huge relief, it was also a huge reminder to stay connected and breathe. For you never know when magic will occur.