The Art of Letting Go


The last two months have proven to be two of the strangest months of my life. I came back home after two years away only to discover it was not my home anymore, I threw away a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, I went through a break up, I lost my best friend, I had to start from scratch again in my hometown and my parents moved to a different country two weeks after I returned. For once, I was the one left behind and I had to attempt to reassimilate to a place that had changed as much as I had. In attempting to do this, I found that I no longer connected to my hometown and felt like a ghost who was haunting my old life.

The most painful thing though wasn’t re-adapting to an old place, it was the realisation upon returning that I had abandoned my real home and was unable to get it back again. I had left behind a country, city, person and dog that I dearly loved because I felt trapped and as though the things I once loved were slipping through my fingertips. I feared that if I didn’t clench my hands tight enough, I’d lose them for good. So, I got on a plane and flew across the world to try and hold onto the remnants of my past. But here’s the thing about trying to hold onto transience – it’s futile. But even with this knowledge we still try to cling to what once was: we keep track of how many months it has been since this or that happened and treasure keep-sakes from a time that will never be again. But ultimately, shit keeps moving forward so you better move with it.

I don’t know if it’s the fear of forgetting our past or the act of deciding to let something go that terrifies us more. But what I do know is that letting go is fucking hard but it won’t break you.

As Elizabeth Bishop writes, “…I lost two cities, lovely ones. And vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent. Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan’t have lied! It’s evident the art of losing’s not too hard to master though it may look like (write it!) like disaster.”

Whilst the path towards letting go may be filled with anxiety, nostalgia, regret and grief, the moment we let go is one of elation and relief. Releasing our grip on the past will not bring disaster, only a new beginning.

Despite knowing this, I will admit that I am still struggling to let go and I find I regularly wake up in a panic as I try to grasp onto two different lives that are fading away: my life in Montreal and my previous life in my hometown. But in the absence of what I once had, I now have a giant question mark over my head which means, right now, I can be anyone I want to be.

And that is a terribly exciting thing.


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