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November 21, 2023

Why what we Hold On to is just as Important as what we Let Go Of.


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Beside my bed, I have a fiddle leaf fig that has grown so big that I can no longer put it in the tub to water it.

It’s one of my favourite plants, and I have about 30 of them in my tiny apartment, so that’s saying something. Even when I wake up panicked in the middle of the night, see its blobby outline against the window, and assume it’s a serial killer who’s broken into my place, I still love it too much to put it anywhere else.

The bottom leaves are dropping off at an almost concerning rate. The bottom four feet of the tree are now bare. But I think that’s because it’s fall, not because it’s dying. Unlike me, the fiddle leaf is a lot better at dropping things it no longer needs. No big show of it either—I just wake up to a leaf on the ground some mornings.

There have been a lot of things dropping off me lately, and I don’t think I’m alone. When I talk to anyone, it confirms my sense that we are all in a state of almost aggressive growth and change. Nothing is quite the same, and it’s not necessarily bad, but it’s unfamiliar and uncomfortable, to say the least.

None of the old things are working anymore. If the universe is energy, it seems that the energy has shifted.

A couple of years ago, I first dove into the realm of manifesting and spirituality and law of attraction. I started by reading Mitch Horowitz’s The Miracle Club and then Dr. Joe Dispenza’s Becoming Supernatural, and it was like a light switch going off in my head, illuminating things that felt true and maybe too good to be true. But then I saw things begin to happen in my life that I couldn’t explain away, and I was converted.

Recently, I opened The Miracle Club for a reread, curious about how the past two years of my life would colour the ideas Horowitz presents, and whether I would be able to squeeze more juice out of the concepts. I’m about halfway through now and I was wrong. There’s nothing in that book for me anymore. In fact, there are things that I disagree with so much that I’m tempted to DNF (even though I already F’d once), as if absorbing these concepts won’t just fail to improve my mindset but might actually make it worse.

As an example, I’ve spent a lot of time undoing my ingrained ideas that well-being is something we must grind and hustle for, something that Horowitz seems to hold as a core belief.

This is how everything feels lately. All the things that once inspired me, comforted me, numbed me out, gave me a sense of control—nothing is hitting the way it used to. And I almost mean that the way it sounds, like an addict getting a hit off something that has never failed to satisfy. Music and movies no longer take me away. Old beliefs, ones that used to feel lifesaving, no longer fit. There are friendships that have changed too, and where they were once an escape, now fall into one of two camps: supportive and reciprocal, or bust.

I’ve been reaching for these old frameworks because I honestly don’t know what’s about to happen next, or even what is happening, and nothing is working. Because it’s not supposed to.

Some things are meant to be scaffolding: structures that grow upwards with the building they support so that all of the good, ugly, secret work can happen.

There are a lot of things that have been in my life just to get me to where I’m going, and not to stay. And the discomfort comes when I hold on to the scaffolding as if it were the point, as if I would crumble without it. Never mind that behind all of those ugly metal bars and rough wood platforms and green mesh there is something so much better, something that was and always has been the point.

Some things come into your life just to move you to where you’re supposed to be. I live in a city I never would have considered because of someone who is no longer in my life, but it’s exactly where I was supposed to end up. I wrote an entire manuscript from a place of heartbreak, and for a few months, worried that this must mean a life of misery. Could I ever write anything else if I wasn’t sad? I guess we’ll find out. But so far, it seems I can.

The old things no longer work because they’re falling away. They’re no longer needed. It’s easy to get addicted to medicine, but if you keep taking it after you’ve healed, you’ll continue to feel sick.

Outside, the world seems to be in sync with what so many of us are going through internally. Leaves fall and habits change and while it would be nice to show up and have things work the way they always have, while it would be comforting to feel like something has been figured out, that’s not really what we’re here to do. Be comfortable, I mean. And I say that with a heavy heart as someone who loves being comfortable.

It’s a bit harder to be worried about what’s going on with me when I can see it reflected in the season around me. I’m outgrowing stuff and squirrels are putting chestnuts in the ground and fog is closing around my balcony and we’re all kind of doing it together. When I was little, outgrowing things was always exciting because it meant new things, like jeans and sneakers. Maybe that’s what this can be about as well—excitement about the unknown rather than fear.

The thing to notice, I think, is what doesn’t fall away. “Let go of what has let go of you” is a great sentiment. But what has held on through this season, through multiple seasons? What, when you take a step back on the sidewalk, isn’t part of the construction, but rather an integral part of the thing underneath, like a support beam or a fire escape?

I have some ideas about all of this, obviously. I think the main one is not holding things up by holding on, which doesn’t have to happen in a dramatic way. It can be less about throwing things out the window and more about lighting a candle.

And I have some good news: construction doesn’t last forever.


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