The short answer is freedom. If you harbor bitterness and resentment and let these things go, you gain freedom from that internal weight you’re carrying.
If you clean out clothes closets or utility drawers and let go of things you no longer need, you gain the freedom of spaciousness. Or room for add-ons more fitting for today.
If you let go of hopes that didn’t work out or disappointments that continue to linger, you gain the opportunity to see the good still present or the energy to refocus at this new turn.
In other words, when you let go of something old that isn’t working – that no longer has a place in your magnificent journey – you open up a path to something new.
Earlier this year, I bought a new pair of walking shoes – they were a little higher end than I usually buy, and I was amazed by how they improved the comfort of my daily walk. This is why better shoes are better. But even those shoes, some months down the line, were becoming worn and unsightly. I bought a new pair.
Then a question came along about the old pair. Should I keep them in case I want to do dirty yard work? Logical perhaps, except I don’t do yard work. It’s one of the things I like least about home ownership, and it usually sits like a burden in my mental “should do’s.”
Set aside the actuality of yard work for a moment – because some people actually like it. Besides, if you don’t do it or have it done, the neighbors will complain, and the city may condemn your little plot of land. Nobody wants to see that happen.
Think instead of the things that run in your head about the shoulds you should be doing. Where do they come from, these shoulds? By whose authority are all of these voices speaking?
Every day the world is full of a million opportunities of shoulda, coulda, woulda, and you can’t do them all or most or many. But which ones will you do? And how will you decide?
Redefining your purpose, refining your vision – these are tools for navigating the twists and turns. Decisions become easier because they fit with who you are and how you can best spend your energies. Why weigh yourself down with the 100 things you probably ought to do instead of narrowing your energies to the top things you will do?
For example, I tried to run a booth for a time, or half a booth, at an antique mall. But I was bad at it and lost money. Sometimes your friends can see things you can’t, and you’re like, “Why didn’t you tell me?” So over lunch, I asked my friend Jan, “Did you have any idea I would be so bad at having a booth? Did you know that I would have such poor instincts for picking things to sell that anyone would actually want to buy?”
She shook her head no. She didn’t know. My ineptness at booth leasing was news to her as well. I let go and gained the opportunity to refocus those energies. Also, I stopped pretending I was going to redo those outdoor areas. Instead, I asked my yard man if he would take care of my shrubs. For barely the cost of losing money in my half a booth, I didn’t have to trim those shrubs.
How you pick and choose spending your time, attention and resources matters. Because once you pick, you can focus on the more appropriate areas – but also you can let go of those shoulds, woulds, coulds that pile up in your head telling you about all the things you’re not doing. See, once you pick your path, you can say back to those voices telling you that you haven’t done the yardwork: “I know! And isn’t that awesome?”
I took note once of a verse in Exodus 23: “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River.” It’s as if God wasn’t saying, “You can do whatever you want, wherever you want.” But instead: “This is your area. Work here.”
To find our area is a wonderful thing. Or not even to “find it,” but to choose it, decide it, pursue it. Or just maybe recognize it and feel good about where you are.
Point is, there are borders. Boundaries. Limits. Not being able to pick your area among millions of options keeps things overwhelming. But within limited time and limited scope, things get done. And purposeful productivity is a freeing feeling — for me, at least. How about you?
If the Shoe Fits
Back to those shoes I bought – I didn’t actually buy them. Every year around my birthday, I get a card from a friend (Jan’s mother, matter of fact), and that card always comes with a check. It’s like she’s my aunt, it’s like she’s family, and she always thinks of me on my birthday and expresses gratitude for our friendship.
Wanda was my president when I worked at Huntingdon College, and I saw early on how she was a good example of someone who pursued career choices with intention and purpose — making decisions, taking actions. She has influenced my path too, and using her gift for a new pair of walking shoes seemed fitting, so to speak.
So… which way are you headed today? Is it toward your purpose or toward your distractions? Is there someone you can influence or learn from? Is there something you can let go of so that you can better enjoy your magnificent journey?
— Minnie Lamberth
The Magnificent Journey, Vol. 1, Issue 3