Ok, apparently I feel like I want to give a little commentary with every one of these posts before I actually get to the prompt. A lot of people in addition to me have expressed disappointment with the prompts for reverb10, but others (not me) have also expressed some guilt about doing so – like how dare they be critical because it’s not like anybody’s forcing them to do the reverb10 project. I actually feel ok about being critical of the prompts, just like I felt like it was ok to criticize assignments when I was a student and just like I think it’s ok when students of mine criticize assignments that I give them when those assignments are bogus or ill-conceived or unnecessarily restrictive or dripping with implied judgment and bias. Because this is the thing: a project like this one (or writing assignments you do as a student) depends on trust. All of us who signed on for reverb10 put our trust into Gwen Bell and the authors that she chose to devise the prompts that would allow us to look back and look forward. We trusted that even though there is clearly a squishy-yoga-self-help bent to this whole thing that the prompts would be open-ended and allow us to veer off in whatever directions we wanted to take and like there wouldn’t be judgment or bias implicit in the prompts. Or at least those were the things that I trusted. And by the time yesterday’s “wonder” prompt rolled around, which did not make me feel all inspired or whatever but rather made me feel a little bit like vomiting, I was having some serious anxiety about what I’d signed up for, to the extent that even though I was tired I forced myself to stay awake until today’s prompt was posted at midnight in the hope that this next prompt would give me strength to continue on with the project. Because in spite of my criticisms, I do feel committed to the project and I do feel like I’m getting something out of doing it – both in terms of pushing myself as a writer and in terms of really thinking carefully about my life. At any rate, thank goodness the whole “wonder” business is over and we can move on to the next thing.
Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
Yay for a prompt that I don’t despise! Hooray! Yippee!
But seriously: I kind of don’t know where to begin to answer this one because I feel like I let go of so much this year. On a very basic level, I let go of a lot of unnecessary “things” that were cluttering up my life, a process that was facilitated by moving. And moving also meant that I let go of the apartment in which I’d lived throughout my time on the tenure track. And then there is finally the cutting of my hair. All of these things aren’t much, really – I mean, we all need to get rid of things every now and then, or move house, or even get one’s hair cut into a totally different style. But I guess that all of these things taken together do feel symbolic to me because I think that if we want good things to come into our lives, and if we want to keep growing and changing, then we have to let go of things that hold us in a place that no longer fits.
So this year has also been about trying to learn to let go of some things emotionally, things that get in the way of me living my life the way that I want to live it. And that in turn ties to the “letting go” of weight. The biggest thing I think of when I think about this area of “letting go” is that I’ve been trying really, really hard, since I moved into the house, not to dwell on things that cause me stress or upset me, not to allow myself to become defined by those things as opposed to things that make me feel relaxed and happy. And, for the most part, that has meant that I’ve needed to find ways to deal with stress and bullshit related to my job that don’t involve trying to dull those feelings with food or drink. I think that we all can have the tendency to worry or to be anxious about things related to our jobs, especially with the economy in the toilet and the constant in-fighting over scarce resources. And I’m not saying that I’ve somehow achieved an enlightened state in which I no longer feel those things. But I have tried to be conscious of when I get into a stress/anger/worry/rage danger zone, to feel what I feel without beating myself up for it, and then to let it the fuck go. Because at the end of the day, as much as I care about my job and my department and my institution and my students and my colleagues and whatever else, the world is not going to come to an end because of any of the things related to any of that. There are people at my institution who have never let anything go, and you know what? They are miserable. All the time. Every day. I have made a conscious choice this year not to become that sort of person.
And that relates to the last thing that I’ve let go this year. I’ve let go of any hopes I might have had for a functional, adult relationship with FB. I haven’t quite let go of him, and I don’t really intend to – we talk frequently and obviously I care about him – but I finally faced the fact that a functional, adult relationship is not in the cards for us. And so it’s sad, and it’s different, and it’s disappointing. But then, I also feel so much happier and like I have so much to look forward to, now that he’s in the box where dysfunctional exes go to live once I decide they are my friends and can’t be anything else. And yes, it took long enough for me to get there with him, but I’ve had a lot going on that, frankly, was more disruptive and immediate and bleak than worrying about letting go of my hope regarding him. So anyway, now I’ve gotten around to letting go of that, and it’s a good thing.
But so anyway. Here’s the thing about letting go. It’s really good, even though it’s also kind of scary. It’s like being a little kid and swinging really high and then leaping off and jumping to the ground – scary, a little dangerous, exhilarating, and fun. Once you let go of the things that you don’t need, don’t like, don’t want, don’t enjoy, or don’t contribute to positivity in your life, well, there’s actually some room for things that do.
(Of course, right now I feel like I’ve got a lot of room and it’s about time that something come along and take up some of that empty space, but as we’ve seen so far in this reverb10 process, I can tend to be impatient and contrary.)