Letting Go

by Michael McGinnis

When I am able to accept changes in my life, I have been happier. In accepting change, I had to let go of one thing in my life, to replace it with something new.

For more than thirty years I wore glasses because my vision otherwise was very poor. Without glasses I was legally blind but with glasses my vision was good. I depended so much on them! If they broke or were lost, I was in trouble. Several years ago I heard about an operation with a laser to correct poor vision. Most people had few problems from the operation, but some had trouble afterwards, such as blurred vision or pain. I had to decide whether to stay with glasses which I knew gave me good vision, or take a chance on something new. Glasses had been my security for many years; if the operation worked it would mean freedom from glasses. I would be able to live, drive, work, read, swim, do everything without glasses.

I was concerned about the possible problems from the laser surgery, but I let go of my concerns and had the operation. My vision was very blurry for a few days after the operation I could hardly even read, let alone see any distance. Temporary double vision made driving back to the Yukon from Vancouver soon after the operation an adrenalin-producing novelty. For a few weeks, my vision seemed very slow to improve, and my trust in the decision I had made seemed misplaced. Now, after four years, my vision is almost as good as it was with glasses good enough for all normal activities, and I don't need glasses any more! I also found something I didn't expect: living without glasses encourages me to be more a participant and less an observer. Taking a chance, and letting go, made a great improvement possible for me.

However, not all changes are easy to make. Sometimes, even small changes are difficult. Especially when I won't let go.

Panhandlers and street beggars in cities are challenges to me. I often feel defensive and anxious when someone approaches me to beg for money. My facial expression becomes hard, tight and defiant. My attitude then makes it difficult for me to do anything but refuse.

I realize that some people who are begging actually need my help, while others would be further ahead learning about their responsibility to themselves. But how to tell the difference? Sometimes, I can drop my hostile attitude, let go of the brittle shell of armor around myself, and let some happiness in. Then, encounters with panhandlers are more productive, whatever the outcome, because I feel that I met the situation with some love.

When I can permanently let go of attitudes of defensiveness and fear, I'll enjoy a different kind of improvement in my vision. My spiritual vision, or understanding of life, will have changed as much as the vision of my eyes.

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