I grew up in a small town in Arizona called Yuma which has since grown to a massive population of 95,000 or so. During those first 15 years of my life I never imagined life outside of the U.S. and much less thought that I would ever live the “international life” that I’m living now. I always had the same friends and acquaintances, and we all frequented the same spots in town. That’s how it was and I didn’t have the capacity to know otherwise.
When my parents announced we were moving to Phoenix, Arizona I remember being terrified. I couldn’t cope with the fact that I was going to lose everything that I knew and loved. I spent many nights crying myself to sleep. That was the hardest part of my first new beginning.
Moving to Phoenix ended up providing a great amount of breathing room. Of course, I had to meet new friends in school and initially gravitated to the outcasts with bad habits. There are a lot of social challenges any kid will undergo when changing schools and for me, not being a cool kid, it took a lot to get over said challenges. But in the end, without realizing it, I had let go of a lot of bad habits from my (even) younger days and grew significantly. Before long and even though it still wasn’t clear, I developed a more refined idea of what I wanted to do after high school.
After that it seems my life has been a series of significant changes either forced upon me through family obligations, the nature of growing older, or from my own volition. And, it seems that most significant changes I experienced yielded the greatest amount of growth in my life.
It became clear that the changes themselves did not transform me, rather embracing them (the less resistance, the better) allowed for re-invention of myself: letting go of what was and creating a new future for myself. It also became clear that this re-invention need not wait for some force from outside to take place.
I also started to see that people I’ve encountered in my life that struggle the most are often those that cannot let go of the old. And, I’m not just talking about the “bad stuff”. People who don’t let go of the music they used to like, the fashion and fads they identified with, the people they loved, the places they grew up… Very often these are the people who I’ve seen face change, become uncomfortable (or terrified), and fall back to their old, bad coping habits. Again and again.
There is something counter-intuitive about letting go of things that opens us up to the world. Somehow, however, if we are open to letting go even of the things we cherish, we will become closer to that which is really most important (and that is sometimes the same thing we let go of).