The art of letting go

letting go

Ours is an industry that is fuelled in large part by confidence.

After all, our incomplete (and occasionally downright ill-informed) knowledge and understanding is not infrequently compensated for by the fervour of our opinions, and the persuasiveness of our rhetoric.

Perhaps this is to be expected.

No-one likes to buy advice from someone who appears to lack confidence in the diagnoses and recommendations that they offer up.

And so we’re surrounded by confident and (frequently self-serving) pronouncements about what will and will not work.

About what is ‘dead’.

About what we ‘must’ do.

Certainty of course feels good.

It gives us solid ground.

Or at least the illusion of it.

But it also carries with it risk.

Certainty breeds ideology.

Ideology breeds dogma.

And dogma makes us inflexible.

Dogma makes us unable to adapt.

It makes us unable to evolve.

It blinds us to options and opportunities.

It closes us off from the possibility of serendipity.

It makes us unable to craft unique, bespoke solutions.

Ultimately it ossifies our creativity.

So perhaps we should take advice and inspiration from the poet Elizabeth Bishop:

One Art2.001

Of course despite its attempt at breezy bravado, it is a bitterly sad poem.

Nonetheless, perhaps it holds a lesson for us.

Perhaps we too should practice the art of losing a favoured opinion and belief.

Even though it may look like disaster.

If only for a short while.

If only in private. At least to start off with.

Just to see what might happen.

To see what possibilities it might open up.

To discover what new freedoms it might make available to us.

For my part, I’m not sure if I entirely believe what I have written here.

But I thought I might try to start to surrender some of my own certainties.

And try to practice the art of letting go.

If only for just a moment.

Source

Elizabeth Bishop, ‘One Art’, from The Complete Poems 1926-1979

4 comments

  1. Pingback: The art of letting go | abitmoreofthatplease
  2. Martha

    Stumbled across this while looking for the Elizabeth Bishop poem — my sister was confident that it was called “The Art of Letting Go” — alas she was ill-informed. The Bishop poem is sad, but hopeful and optimistic. However, I prefer the commentary around it much more. Letting go of the ego, and subsequently, the quest for the supposed idyllic job, power, and lifestyle that we allow “society” to define for us — can be most liberating.

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