reverb10: [let go]

December 5, 2010

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I’ve come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them…
-Annie Dillard

Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
[Letting go of all that hinders, binds – and of gathering all that is light, beautiful, and treasured.]

This summer, my family vacationed in Arcadia, MI, located on the serene waters of Lake Michigan. The common lore of the land includes the much coveted Petoskey stone. The stone is made of fossilized coral, and when it is wet, the coral forms a beautiful, sparkling pattern on the surface. Not being from Michigan, my Mom and I set out to go Petoskey hunting, hoping to gain our status as locals. We rolled up our pants, and wadded in the cold northern waters, turning over stones.

We quickly picked up a rhythm of gathering a handful of stones, examining, and then tossing them back. The progression only seemed natural then, that as we reflected about the story of hardship from the past year  we eventually were throwing our rocks back with much force. We began hurling large rocks into the heart of the lake, yelling a name or word, and letting go. The larger the rock, the better, as it took more strength to hoist the mass over my head, gather breath, and simultaneously let go of the rock and the burden.

The rocks that I threw on that summer afternoon carried perfectionism, disappointment, and the grief of loss, among other things. The physical act made the spiritual act of letting go more tangible, more real.

At the end of the day, the joy of letting go exceeds the initial feeling of loss. With the burden removed, I am free to grow and stretch in new ways. After all of our stone throwing, Mom and I both found Petoskey stones, something that many people spend years looking for. Hers was large, magnificent, and prime paper-weight quality. Mine was a small pebble-like stone, perfect to fit in my pocket. It serves as a reminder that letting go of the large rocks results in the beauty of a small stone, sought after and full of worth.

I hope that after a year of letting go, this next one is a gathering small Petoskey stones.

Photo credit: ojoyous1