Let’s face it, we’ve had to say goodbye to a lot of things these past five months. When things are as uncertain as they have been, the skill that I have had to improve is to let go of my planning ways and rest on my faith and intuition. The news shifts and changes every day. I find myself with no desire to read the latest newsflash on my phone or another email from the school district or University (Stanford, please take your students back and reinstate Mens Volleyball) because I feel like whatever I digest and plan on is going to take another turn before I can finish taking it all in. These months, whether we feel the strain of finances, relationships, changing work or home environments, or just the flat out scariness of managing the great unknown without our go to escapes like concerts, movies, dining in, hot yoga, and gatherings with our favorite people have taken their toll. It’s no different for the younger generation. Do they get to go off to college? For Luke and Stanford that answer went from a mid September yes to a no this week. Yet another disappointment to test his resilience, there have been a lot of them since March. I have coached and managed myself and others through the feelings of anxiety, isolation, and loneliness, looking to master the art of staying present and build sustainability in the unknown because when I stand in that place, it brings a sense of strength and deep calm…but I won’t tell you I am there in every moment, it ebbs and flows like the waves I’ve been watching. But I know in every moment, if that strength is escaping me, it’s not far away, and we all have access to if we channel the skills of Active Optimism that help bring us there.
It’s been a week of goodbyes, after sending Lauren off to Texas on Saturday, Tuesday morning, I woke up before the sun, our eight year old Lab had cancer, although we couldn’t tell what type after many tests, and he was suffering. It’s the hardest thing to watch and the worst part of being a pet owner. We’ve had Lucky since Matthew was five, with some twists and turns in that story that I won’t get into here. Needless to say, he is loved and Matthew is the best dog owner I have ever known. There is something about the unconditional love of a pet that strengthens us if we lean into it, and he has. He is a kid that no matter how hard the school day is, he’s come home and found love and purpose taking care of Lucky. And on Tuesday he made the decision that he needed to be free of his pain…such a brave decision for him and not easy on my Texas dwelling kiddo as well, to have to say goodbye from that distance. I realized as Tuesday went on, there was a lot attached to this goodbye for me too. Yes, losing the unconditional love of a pet can be counted among the worst days for anyone, but Lucky himself held memories of old times, when things were different in my life, and it got me thinking about the reasons we have to say goodbye, even when we don’t want to. As with every goodbye, there are all of the thoughts of how the good times far outweigh the difficult moments, but there is no getting around the heaviness of today. Sometimes we have to say goodbye, even when we aren’t ready…Tuesday is was to Lucky, but it happens over and over in life…with kids, relationships, homes, the list goes on and on. We can only follow our true path if we are strong enough to say goodbye, when pain is greater than growth and deep health isn’t an option anymore. When we are strong enough to say goodbye to things we love, then we can be strong enough to let go of things that don’t serve our best life, like insecurities so we can find greater love for ourselves, fear so we live bold and free, relationships that are keeping us in a holding pattern instead of uncovering deeper layers of ourselves, and expectation so that we can find simple gratitude for what is meant to be today. Whatever it is we are experiencing, whether it is the greatest or saddest day, the only certainty that we have is that this moment will not last. Mastering the art of letting go is not what creates our suffering but frees us from it. And then, somewhere in the strength of goodbye, we let go and we gain - wisdom, strength, adaptability, faith, and confidence in ourselves that we can handle whatever comes our way.