The best way to catch a raccoon is fairly simple. You take something that has an opening which is large enough to fit a raccoon’s paw while opened, and you place something shiny inside. When the raccoon, unable to resist something shiny, reaches in and grabs the object, their closed paw is too big to pull free of the opening. You may think that’s ridiculous. All he has to do is let go, and then he’s free. But he won’t. He won’t let go. He doesn’t understand that his freedom is in the act of letting go. So, he will stay there for hours, clinging to something as ridiculous as a piece of tin, until you come back around to collect him into a cage.
I’m feeling a lot like a raccoon. Much like the raccoon, I have a hold on something that I can’t seem to let go and leave behind. Letting go means freedom, and yet I willfully anchor myself to something that hinders me from moving forward in my life. Of course, I have far more thought processes than a raccoon. His only thought is ‘it’s shiny and I want it‘ while my thoughts are infinitely more involved. If I let go, I might lose something wonderful. If I let go, I might never find anything else. If I let go, it might hurt even more than holding on and I can’t take any more pain. If I let go, I might be wrong and further destroy my chances at happiness. If I just hold on a little longer, maybe everything will be okay again.
So, I hold on. I cling. And as I cling to the very thing entrapping me, I consider myself helpless. I call out for help. I plead with whoever might be near me to help me get out of my predicament–but only if I don’t have to let go. I grow frustrated that no one will help me. I grow impatient with people telling me ‘you just have to let go’. No. No, I can’t let go. You don’t understand.
I am so afraid to let this go. I live in a constant state of anxiety and paranoia. I have clung to this singular idea in my life for a very long time. There have been many occasions where I have reached for something different with my free hand, only to recoil at the thought of not being able to have both it and what I’m holding so tightly to already. I am stuck, and life continues to pass me by while I am desperate both to move forward and to keep that bit of shiny tin.
This is my struggle. I haven’t yet found the solution. As easy as the solution seems–just let it go–it is far more difficult in practice. Every time I think my fingers are uncurling, and I’m taking tentative steps away from the trap, my thoughts wrap themselves around me and I find my grip tightening all over again, sometimes even tighter than before. Tell me: how do you let go of something that you want so desperately, and have wanted for so very long? Because I need to know. I need to let it go.