The Delicate Dance Between Holding on and Letting Go

This is part of the Choosing Vulnerability Series. Read more about it here.

“How can I live in the magic of the moment and let it go right after,” this question plagues me as I sit across from Stefan, look into his eyes and take a bite of the vegan lunch we prepared together. We agree to eat a meal in silence while staring into each other’s eyes the whole time. Later that night at Kirtan (a form of bhakti yoga that involves singing and chanting), Samata tells us to think of a moment we felt love in our lives. I think of that one. Sitting across from Stefan after weeks of sharing our views on life, our dreams of community, raw cacao, homemade chai tea, giggles, dance moves, intimacy, and my twin size bed.

My connection with Stefan came out of nowhere. After months of hoping to find a partner and searching for one in each attractive passerby’s eyes, I connected with Stefan beside a fire on the last night of a sweet summer gathering all about love. Finally I felt like someone looked into my eyes and actually saw me, looked into my eyes and felt my heart. After months of knowing Stefan from similar traveling paths, everything just clicked. I had long admired and respected him, and now I realized I wanted to get to know him on a deeper level.

I felt that ‘je ne sais quoi’ connection with him, that unexplainable feeling of sharing buzzing electricity with someone. I felt it every time our eyes met and every time we were near each other. That feeling was there and so was the laughter, the playfulness and silliness, the freedom, the right combination of lightness and seriousness, and of course, the always looming realization that he could leave at any moment. Stefan has been on the road for five years. Gypsying all over the place with the biggest free spirit and heart to match. I first saw him at Envision Festival in Costa Rica as Rising Appalachia performed. My friend and I were dancing and singing along to the traditional folk song, “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet.” As we sung, “Who’s gonna be your man,” Stefan appeared behind us dancing and laughing. He danced in and then danced right back out.

How can I appreciate what’s happening when I know it’s not going to last? How can I love and then instantly release? And how can I do it without being so overly analytical all the time?!

How do I do this when I want to know that something is real and not just the magic of the moment. For the most part I understand to appreciate the feeling in the moment you feel it because life only exists within the moment, but at the same time if I feel a strong connection with someone, I want to explore the possibilities of what it means. As I write this I feel conflicting thoughts: knowing that that feeling only exists in the moment and that I have to let it go after, yet wanting to preserve it in some sense.

Does this feeling of preservation come from a desire to hold on to something to prove that it happened? Like obsessively chronicling all these moments and journaling as some sort of subconscious validation and proof that I am alive and breathing.

“She was lost in her longing to understand.”
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

I know that love is everywhere. Love is around, within and inside of me constantly. I know I can access this at any moment. I am extremely grateful for the moments I’ve shared love with people. Yet sometimes I feel a pang in my heart, a longing to consistently share this love with one person in a secure, safe, comfortable place.

I crave the security and knowledge of love. To know that the love, that feeling in that moment is lasting in a way. To know that it’s real beyond the moment and that we share a mutual connection and appreciation. But nothing is lasting. If nothing is lasting then how can something be secure? Is love only meant to last in these fleeting moments? Is love only a fleeting moment? Is life?

“Albert Camus wrote that the only serious question is whether to kill yourself or not.

Tom Robbins wrote that the only serious question is whether time has a beginning and an end.

Camus clearly got up on the wrong side of the bed, and Robbins must have forgotten to set the alarm.

There is only one serious question.

And that is: Who knows how to make love stay?

Answer me that and I will tell you whether or not to kill yourself.

Answer me that and I will ease your mind about the beginning and the end of time.

Answer me that and I will reveal to you the purpose of the moon.”

– Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker

It’s the same questions over and over. The same questions in the form of another face, another soul connection, another place. Months after connecting with Stefan, my friend and I tell each other that those are the only questions. Loving and letting go is the only lesson. Regardless of how many times I learn this, it always stings. Maybe it gets easier to some degree, but as I come to realize what I want in a partnership, the questions and the longing burn deeper.

It’s been years since I’ve been in a committed monogamous relationship with someone. Being around Stefan made me see myself in the perspective of a relationship. Weeks after our first connection around a fire, I realized some things about the kind of relationship and love I want in my life as Stefan and I were once again around a fire (there’s a lot of being fireside in this community). I craved Stefan’s attention and affection and wanted him to sit next to me. I thought about him leaving and daydreamed about the possibilities of traveling again, spending more time with him. But then I realized that’s not the kind of love I want. I pulled out my journal and started writing with the light of the fire:

I want to love without attachment. I’m learning to love without attachment. I choose to love without attachment. I want to give without expectation. I’m learning to live without expectation. I choose to see people for who they are on their own path and not try to fit them into who I am on my path. I choose to accept people for who they are in each moment without expecting or needing more.

This has been my mantra since I wrote it. It’s always a work in progress. Especially the bit about seeing people for who they are and not for who I want them to be.

Now that time has distanced the intensity of the connection, I can look back on all of this with a lighter feeling in my heart. But I’m always dancing with the feelings of holding on and letting go, longing for love and saying goodbye.

How do you handle these types of situations? How do you embrace the moment while the very existence of it indicates an end?

*Update: After posting this I was reading one of my Rumi books. I thought that this poem fitted so well with the theme of this post and couldn’t resist including it:

 

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