Confession: I Am Beginning To Let Go

Two years ago, when I bought my condo, my bosses sent me a beautiful white orchid to commemorate the occasion. It felt like a celebration of my arrival at adulthood, becoming this person with a mortgage and a car and something I needed to keep alive. I would stare at that orchid and feel the heavy weight of obligation on my shoulders. Keeping that orchid alive seemed symbolic: if I didn’t kill the orchid, I was maybe ready for other “adult” responsibilities (Next Stop: Marriage! Pets! Babies!)

But a few months later, unsurprisingly, the orchid began to wilt, its soft white petals first hanging down, limply, then falling to the ground, one by one. I moved it around, first to sunnier spots in the apartment, and then to darker ones. I watered it more, I watered it less. I pleaded with it to return to its former beauty. I yelled at it to grow (because THAT works). All to no avail. The orchid lost all of its petals, and no amount of coaxing or begging or forcing could bring them back. It was time to let go.

I’m good at letting go of things.

The sweater I once loved that now has moth holes, the pillows on my couch that flattened over time and faded from sunlight, the shoes that aren’t worth one more trip to the repair shop; they all get thrown in a bag and dropped off without a second glance at Goodwill, soon to become someone else’s letting go decision. I leave clothing and accessories scattered across the globe on every trip, in order to lighten my suitcase for the flight home. “Things” are easily released.

It’s the ideas that are tough for me to let go. Like the idea that I killed my orchid. It died in a manner similar to many of my relationships, and I was filled with the same confusion and regret. I loved it too much, or I didn’t love it enough. I suffocated it, or I abandoned it. I couldn’t decipher what it really needed. I didn’t know what I did wrong but that orchid died and it was my fault. And that was something I could not let go. I moved the orchid to my balcony, because I could not face throwing it away.

I have been holding onto these ideas and pressures about how my writing should be progressing as well. It has seemed like it needed to be specifically defined. How many times I needed to write a week (3 seemed ideal), how many sites I should be writing for other than my own (again, 3 felt right), how many new places I should be pitching to publish my work (3 has always been my lucky number!). The idea was that I needed goals, and timelines to reach them, and outlets to help me get there , or somehow my writing (and I) wouldn’t be worth as much.

Unfortunately these ideas are doing nothing to motivate me; they simply give me additional reasons to call myself lazy, or untalented, or a failure.

It’s almost like I’m setting myself up for this failure. It’s almost like I’m looking for a reason to beat myself up. It’s almost like I enjoy it.

I don’t, of course. Who would? But it’s comfortable. It’s easier for me to criticize than to praise. It comes naturally to look for faults.

Except it’s exhausting, and it’s bringing no good into my life. There is no reason to keep hanging onto this pattern. It serves no one, especially not me.

As my beloved writer friend, Jen Pastiloff, has eloquently said, “And then it was time to let go.”

It IS time to let go. Of the criticisms, of the self-imposed writing schedules, of the guilt when I do something else, of the impatience to get there, get somewhere, faster, of all of the ideas that my writing needs to be anything other than what it is: an outlet through which I can connect and understand.

My balcony floor is being refinished this week, so I had clear away everything that has been thrown out there over the past two years in fits of “I can’t look at this anymore!” The extra paint cans, the grill utensils, the toolkit I’ve never opened, the dead orchid.

Except the orchid wasn’t dead. This orchid had, somehow, on its own, come back to life, with three beautiful blooming flowers and several more buds almost ready to open. It didn’t need to be watered, or moved to the sunny side of the room, or implored, or belittled.

It just needed to be let go. Let go to grow on its own, in its own time, in its own beautiful way.

Perhaps if I am able to let go, my own flowers will begin to bloom once again.

The Second Coming of My Orchid

The Second Coming of My Orchid



25 thoughts on “Confession: I Am Beginning To Let Go

  1. Loved this story about “letting go” and that your Orchid bloomed again, once it was allowed to let go and bloom on its own time…your writing is lovely! 🙂

  2. Your writing is beautiful and of course I loved this one too. I learned a long time ago to let things go and it has served me well. It was wonderful spending 2 weeks with you in Italia:)

  3. Katie, thanks for writing this:-) I follow you and Jen, though I rarely comment even though both of your writing moves me so deeply! This post really resonated with me right now as I am going through something similar, and funny enough, Jen’s really resonated with my husband as he has begun a new job and struggled with letting the old one go. Keep writing and sharing your gift with the world, one day at a time. You never know how many lives you are impacting with your words:-)

  4. Always enjoy reading your texts, your writing is perfect as it is.
    Glad your orchid bloomed again!
    And for most uncontrollable aspects of life, as the song says: Let it be!

  5. Pingback: Making the most of it | Confession: I Am Beginning To Let Go

  6. I’m so thankful that Jen re-blogged this and led me here. I’m at this same place, and so very much needed to read your words today. Thank you for writing them. I’m beginning to feel the earth move with the word, “Change”. It is time…

  7. I came across your blog through MindBodyGreen, started reading and can’t stop. So many of your posts, this included, resonate with me on so many levels and I thank you for putting your thoughts on paper in such articulate way.
    PS – I live in LA but originally from Monteriggioni. Small world, eh?
    Keep up the good work!

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