Each day, reluctantly, I slip more deeply into this year of releasing. Everywhere I turn, a new facet of it faces me.
I strive each morning to pour myself into words and hold my presence there, crush the letters against me, smearing them on my body. I keep trying to build piles of every sensation I can get my senses on and distill them into marks on the pages of my journal. But when I look down, I see my fingers clutching nothing.
When I was growing up, they told us that a life amounts to what you accumulate over time: money and objects and affections and achievements and the admiration of people. Of what you manage to have and manage to hold. Of all my worldly possessions. (So essential to compile and share that they even standardized them in wedding vows.)
Now I watch my life—ways of making sense of the world that I’ve spent decades trying to gather tightly in my hands—as it slips through my fingers. Of course, none of this is really new, but in the past I’ve taken it all so personally, as a sign of life rejecting me because of my inadequacies.
But lately I begin to perceive that life can’t be held. Nothing can.
The problem isn’t losing; everyone loses everything eventually. The problem arises from not knowing how to let them go.
To capture has only ever really meant to squeeze the life from things.
Now, sitting at this black oval dining room table, I put these words down like record tracks, like grooves in black vinyl. Now I know they’ll only come alive again when you breathe them out through your eyes and mouth. They don’t belong to me—or you—except briefly.
Brief as a breath plumbed deeply only once, then released as all things that live have to be: children lovers seasons trees knowing hopes morning colors, laughter and terror and tears and hates and loves.
All of them I need to release. The room I sit in will disappear eventually into whatever form it needs to take. Everything has to. Even me.
All writing and all reading and all living are only recycling. Existence is always a fire sale, the universe perpetually slashing prices: Everything must go.
I used to think that was another way of saying, “Nothing matters; there’s no point.” But these times are teaching me to read it another way. Everyone and everything is precious. Everyone and everything is flying by. And all elude my best attempts to seize them.
I’m making an effort now (and, let me tell you, often failing) to just love them. To just love every last bit, down to the bone and the marrow and beyond, wherever that is. Words are my way of doing that; I hope you each find yours. And for the gains and losses like mine—substantial on both sides—I’m trying to find my way to counting myself lucky, then waving them goodbye.