We have been back in upstate New York for several weeks. These few weeks seem to be all about letting go. I can’t return to our cottage here and not think of what the stream bank was like before the flood destroyed it. It is hard for me to let go of those graceful, but gnarly old willows that lined the stream and learn to love the large boulders that now hold the water back from our lovely cottage.
|Saying Goodbye to My Trees|
At another university when I was an administrator, I met several faculty who still retained their offices on campus and still went to the office each day. They were adamant the administration not take away these spaces because they needed a space in which to work. Perhaps, but I also sensed something else. They did not wish to let go of the life as professor they once had. In fact, it seemed they could not let go of it. I vowed I would not do that when I retired.
I enjoyed my years teaching college students, but now I’m quite happy to have others do it. I think it’s like publishing a book. Once you have put it out there in print, it is no longer yours. It belongs to the readers. Once you’ve left life as a college professor, it belongs to those who come after you.
Sometimes it’s little things that you have to let go of. Glenn and I used to go to this country bar and restaurant in Okeechobee every weekend and dance to the bands there. Last year it changed ownership and now has become a bar that allows smoking, has installed pool tables where we used to dance and holds TV sports events. No more dancing. Here in upstate New York, there are no places to dance either. I miss that part of our life. And unfortunately it’s a part that seems to remind me I’m getting older. Who me?
I’m aware that it is easy to assert that we should move on with our lives and for some not so easily accomplished. I feel lucky because I have my writing. I have friends who insist they cannot retire because they have no life other than their work. So I feel very fortunate I found another part of myself I could develop. As a developmental psychologist I know life is all about change, and change comes only when we are confronted by challenges and find we must adjust. It can be fun, and it can be painful. It can be both fun and painful.
What else have I had to let go of in these weeks? Well, I thought we would begin renovating our downstairs bathroom. Instead I had to let go of that idea until Glenn finishes building an extension onto our shed. So I’m still carting laundry to the nearby laundromat. The good news is that it’s right next to the ice cream shop.
What does letting go mean to you?