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Let Go or Be Dragged. The words popped into my mind instantly as I realized I had lost control of my horse, Paladin, and together we were tearing through the rocky, uneven countryside miles from home. At fifteen, I was fearless. I was always doing things like this; things like taking Paladin out for a trail ride without the proper saddle, assuming nothing would go wrong. But that day, something did go very wrong. A hawk in a tree spooked him as we rounded a curve in the path, and I had simultaneously leaned way out of my saddle, which was too loose, to attempt to tighten it. As he jolted forward, I lost my balance and found myself hanging on by his mane and one side of the reins. If I held on tighter, I would be dragged. So I let go.

I hit the earth with a fierce thud, side first, wrist down. I was too stunned to sense any pain, and after a few moments I got up and followed my horse’s hoof prints in the dirt until at last I found him, panting alone between a pair of moss covered trees. He looked ashamed. I climbed back on, timidly, and returned home with a swollen wrist and a lesson learned.

As adults, we often forget how to let goin an instant. When we’re in danger, it seems we try to hang on tighter and tighter to the very person or situation that is putting us in danger. I often wonder why, at age fifteen I knew to let go, and at thirty-five I try so desperately to hold on. Maybe it’s because we all want to have some sense of control over our lives, so we hold onto what we can. Sometimes holding on is worth it, because some things are worth holding onto. But in some situations, we could all take advice from the fearless young rider who knows when to just let go.

Learning to Give Up Control

When my husband told me he wanted to move out of the home we had built together, I thought only of ways to keep him from leaving. My whole being was filled with fear, much more than I had ever experienced from a wild trail ride those years ago. This was a new kind of fear, replete with the uncertainty of ever feeling happiness again.  I wanted to hold onto my happiness, and to my security.

Image Courtesy of Photo by Illva R.

I refused to let go of the reins, and tried to control the outcome of a certain, impending divorce. When you care deeply for someone, it is natural to try to hold onto that person, and that relationship you put so much time and care into. You can become blinded by your own desperate struggle to keep your marriage on the right path, so you don’t even see that you’ve already lost your grip. No matter how badly you may want this to work - to not be left alone on the cold ground as he goes galloping into the distance without you - it is no longer in your control. 

A Lesson in Zen

I was fortunate enough to be reminded of the words that had come so easily to my mind as a girl. Over dinner at a friend’s house, I poured out my heart in recounting how I was trying so hard to save my marriage, to no avail. I described how he had turned away from me so easily, and hardened his heart. All I wanted was to make him remember that he loved me.  We had been together for seven years, and he had already begun looking for an apartment. Why was it so easy for him to let go? How had it come to this when I was willing to do so much more, go so much farther, to try and try again? After listening carefully to my story, my friend turned to me and looking at me squarely, said, Let go or be dragged.” It was just what I needed to hear. The words from a zen quote I knew so well from my childhood, but had since forgotten.

Image Courtesy of arabianhorsetimes.blogspot

A Time to Hold On, and a Time to Let Go

We cannot control how other people feel or the choices they make, but we can control our own actions. We can decide when to hold on, and when to let go. And it isn’t easy to make that choice. If you let go, you could fall, and get hurt. But if you hold on, you may be dragged, or thrown off later. Life is a wild ride sometimes. It is unpredictable and you may have to make decisions in an instant. It sounds scary, but only because as adults we make things harder than they really are. In reality, it’s simple: You have the reins. Now all you have to do, is let go.

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  • Comment Link kai Sunday, 16 February 2014 21:35 posted by kai

    I been married 12 years, with my wife for 15 years from when i was 19. Now at 34 ive raised her kids, bought a home and she decided to leave me in january. Now scince i only had stepkids, i have no kids and the home because she expects ti seperate fir six months 'then come back when "playtimes" over. Im learning to let go.

  • Comment Link HeatherKreider38 Thursday, 20 June 2013 19:21 posted by HeatherKreider38

    I LOVE this article- and I will need to remember this! I, like the author, at 35, feel like I am so desperately holding onto a marriage- that if I am honest about it- was over years ago. But in my mind now that we are going through with the divorce, the future is so scary and unknown- and I am so desperately trying to hold on to the past, and my marriage and the man I said I would spend the rest of my life with. I am trying to control the situation-and I need to just let go!