Today, I’m celebrating letting go. I woke up this morning smiling, for the first time in too long. I had finally unclenched my little monkey fist, from an outcome that I was overly attached to.

Versions of the “how to trap a monkey” story are ubiquitous (there’s a jar, there’s rice inside, the monkey grasps the rice, he’s trapped, but he still won’t let go of the rice), and I’ve personally been a very foolish monkey this year. For me, the rice is generally an idea of how things should be, how the world should work, of what I perceive as the best outcome.

For example, last month a job possibility came up for us in Washington state. At first I wasn’t completely sure about the timing, but then I was convinced it was the right move by a long list of pros and a short list of cons. And then I clung to that rice like you wouldn’t believe. I was checking out Port Angeles real estate listings, schools, book stores and coffee shops. Planning the monthly trips to visit my hometown. Weekly dinners with my mom and step-dad. Trips with the kids on the ferry, to the Seattle Art Museum and the Pacific Science Center! And maybe I’d join a rowing team again…

Yeah. You can certainly see where this is going. The rice dissolved in my hand, as I held on to my desired outcome so feverishly. When the job didn’t come through, I still couldn’t unclench my fist. The rice was no longer a possibility. But instead of removing my hand from the jar, I dug in my heels, determined that only moving to Washington would do. While I was staring at the jar, trying to break it on the ground and complaining over the unfairness of it all, real life was still going on around me. And it turns out I was sitting in a rice paddy all along, surrounded by beautiful abundance.

Someone I love very much reminded me of all I have to be grateful for. He also reminded me that my family will always love me unconditionally, no matter where I live. No matter how foolishly I behave.

So here’s to liberation, from our own monkey-minds and our own grasping monkey paws. I’m thankful that I’ve finally dropped the rice and the jar. I’m hopeful that I can continue to open my eyes to the present moment, and that I can appreciate what is. And when I get my hand stuck in a jar again (because I most certainly will; this is what all monkeys do), I hope I can remember how to let go, again and again and again.

So, let’s get back to the I Love Denver campaign! Since I missed a few days, involved as I was with that rice, you get some bonus Denver love tonight.

#1 Concerts at Red Rocks. Michael took me there to see a little band called The Shins last month. Why didn’t anybody tell me how great they are!?

I think I’ve cried at every concert I’ve seen at Red Rocks, just out of crazy adoration of the space and the sound. True to form, I cried an extra lot over Simple Song. I’d say it’s worth clicking over to the lyrics. Oh yes, there are water references!

#2 Denver Art Museum.Β Who needs to take a ferry to Seattle, when you can take a five minute drive down Speer Boulevard, to a very fine museum? Β And parking is free on the fourth of July, in case you’d like to go next year. We always check out the interactive lights/bubbles on the second floor, as well as the Western collection. I try to sprint to the modern collection, for some wistful sighs, before the kids beg me to move along. I really could look at those Robert Motherwell prints for days. I have to figure out if I can make it to the Yves Saint Laurent exhibition before it ends on July 8, and Garry Winogrand is still calling my name.



8 thoughts on “Liberation

  1. From one “monkey” to another: I have a mug my daughter decorated for me, in Kindergarten, on my kitchen counter. It is filled with dry rice, to serve as a reminder to “let go” — I’m completely serious. The rice is leftover from a demonstration I did with my friends, having us grab the rice really tight, and then open our hands to see how it felt to let the rice pour out…Maybe you should get your hands on some rice for some sensory play with S and B? I don’t know how you feel about using food for sensory play, but it should be fine to cook with afterwards, if you rinse it off really well? How would that extend the rice metaphor?!

    I have a book rec. for you, if you haven’t read it yet, that I think may be helpful/enjoyable at this time of “liberation” for you: This Is How… by Augusten Burroughs I’m more than half-way through, myself, and thoroughly enjoying it.

    • I looooove this πŸ™‚

      I’m looked up “This is How…” too – have to order it for when we get back from WA, unless I run into it before then.

  2. Hi, Elise. Needless to say, we too are flexing the cramps out of our fingers. Your sentiment is so perfectly and beautifully expressed, so simple and profound, I am forwarding your words to everyone in my email file whom I love, which company includes Michael, Sam, Bella, and of course and especially you. Larry

  3. I think I’ll start planning a trip to Denver!
    Lisa, I put the Burrough’s book on reserve at the library. Thanks for the tip.

  4. As someone who has bounced back and forth on loving and living in Denver, I can say that right now I am actually grateful that our almost move to the woods is not happening and that we are getting to stay here. If you ever need a long (really to long to comment here) list of the wonderfulness of Denver let me know, or it could be with a cup of coffee. We’ve been back for almost four years and I still get teary when I have a few too many glasses of wine out of gratitude for being in this city.

    • I’m up for coffee and appreciating Denver. I’m glad that you guys are staying, and that you’re happy about it too. Maybe we could meet for City Park Jazz sometime in August? We still haven’t made it to the fountain this summer…

  5. Pingback: What do people do all year? 13 for ’12 | The Family Lab for Inquiry and Play

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