When I was little, my dad read me a book called Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, by Judith Viorst. Do you know it? Our country has just had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week. I don’t mean to sound flip. It was the kind of week that makes you wonder what is happening in this country. The bombing of the Boston Marathon, the explosion of a Texas plant, the delivery of poisoned letters, and the failure of gun control legislation dominated the news. It was the kind of week that sends you searching for silver linings.
Meanwhile, inside my own inconsequential, little world, I had a memorable encounter at Starbuck’s. When I walked through the front door, I was fumbling with my iPhone. I paused to read an email, and a woman approached me. Extremely agitated, she insisted that I order first. I asked her what had happened, and she told me I had let the door shut in her face. Instantly embarrassed and ashamed of my behavior, I apologized and asked her to please step in front of me in line. Still agitated, she again insisted that I go first. I apologized again and sat down until she had ordered her coffee. After she ordered her drink, I apologized one more time. I stepped up to the counter, burst into tears, and then went to the bathroom to collect myself. When I returned to finish my order, the barista came around the counter and said, “Do you need a hug?” Then she gave me a hug and a free coffee. I thanked her, and we talked for a few more minutes. We invented a great title for a poem or a country song: “Hugs and Venom”. I left Starbuck’s feeling happier, calmer, and more mindful than I was when I walked in the door. Now that’s a silver lining.
After a few days of reflection on my encounter and the events of last week, I have one thought to share: Let go. Love out.
I say it to myself as a reminder to be mindful and attentive to those around me. I say it to anyone who feels anxious, angry or hostile. Let go. Love out. I know it’s hard to do. I fail daily, but I’ll keep trying.
I’ve been searching for the words of an artist who has said this more poetically. I did Google searches like “poetry be nice” and “poetry send love”. Then I remembered a poem sent to me by my wise friend, Jenny:
She Let Go
By Jennifer Eckert Bernau
Without a thought or a word, she let go.
She let go of fear.
She let go of judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.
She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.
She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She just let go.
She let go of all the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.
She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.
She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go.
She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.
No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing.
Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.
There was no effort. There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad.
It was what it was, and it is just that.
In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her.
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.
Here’s to giving ourselves the gift of letting go…
There’s only one guru ~ you.
I revisited this poem several hours after my Starbuck’s encounter, and it soothed me. It is the kind of poem to revisit over time. With each reading, it takes on new meaning.
Gandhi wrote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Lenny Kravitz sang, “Let Love Rule.” The Beatles sang, “Let it Be.” Find your own words to say it: Let go. Love out.