Letting Go

Finished artworks that we may see and love deeply are in a sense the relics or traces of a journey that has come and gone.   ~Stephen Nachmanovitch, from Free Play (p.6)

I remember being amazed by Natalie Goldberg’s account of her writing booth at the Minnesota Zen Center Summer Festival and Bazaar, where she sold spontaneously-written poems for 50 cents or a dollar and never looked back.  She says, “In Japan there are stories of great Zen poets writing a superb haiku and then putting it in a bottle in a river or nearby stream and letting it go….This is a profound example of nonattachment.” (from her book Writing Down the Bones)

Nachmanovitch helped me understand this concept of letting go by making it clear that there really is nothing to hold onto.  What produced the poem or other work has passed, has floated downstream.  This would seem to make the case for being ever-present to see what arises in this moment, and then this moment, and this.


3 Responses to Letting Go

  1. Teresa says:

    I just bought a new set of colored drawing pencils. In that moment, I was certain that I would come home and begin using them. When I got home, the moment had passed as I looked around in my office and saw chaos. Perhaps I should have just sat down in the middle of the store and started drawing while I was in the mood. Most people do not understand that kind of impulse, however, and I probably would just have caused a scene.

    “The best-laid schemes of mice and men…” – Burns.

  2. elaine says:

    Hmmm. I have a problem with letting go of something I’ve created be it visual or written. The moment may have passed but it took a part of me with it and sometimes I’m just not ready to let go that part of me.

  3. quotesqueen says:

    OK, Elaine, here’s your challenge: do a collage or picture or poem that you really love, and send it to someone you care about or someone who needs it with no expectation of ever seeing it again. Don’t keep a photo or a copy, just let it go and see how it feels.

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