The art of letting go

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© Provided by The Indian Express

When I was 20 I fell in love with an Australian artist in NYC. He moved in with me, and five months later, I came home to an empty apartment. I began looking for clues to his disappearance and soon realised my student loan and any meager savings had vanished with him. He left me broken, betrayed, and full of anger and regret. New emotions for me. He also left me with a choice. Would I allow this one person and one moment in time to become the lens through which I observed life and love? Would I opt to live in a body and mind drowning in a cesspool of depressive emotions? Or, would I choose to let go of the hurt and move on to love again?

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All of us have been hurt by someone. A classmate, a sibling, a parent, a partner, an in-law, a friend. We all have self-inflicted wounds that fill us with shame. I can allow one happening, one bad relationship or one memory to keep me from realising all that I have come onto this Earth to achieve and discover, or I can choose to forgive and forget, to keep living and loving, dreaming and hoping, believing and aspiring—knowing that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities and new possibilities.

Those who have lived every minute, who have taken the good, the bad and the ugly all in their stride, who have not allowed one moment to defeat them, but are the sum of the moments of their lifetime, are the ones who come out stronger, smiling and fulfilled in life. Those who are defined by one failure, one defeat, one tragedy or distemper are the ones at the end of their lives. They have nothing positive to add to life. They become the living dead.

There are many things I do to ensure that the past isn’t keeping me stuck in a moment of betrayal, anger, or shame. One of the most important is to take into account what is happening in the life of the person who has hurt me. What were they suffering at that moment, what were their realities? What circumstances led them to a place where they became vulnerable, let down their guard, and acted badly?

The Golden Rule comes into play here. I need to give to another the consideration that I would like them to give to me in my bad moments, when I am most susceptible to censure and condemnation. If I want to be considered a civil and decent person, then I won’t cast aspersions on others in situations where there are two people involved, two emotions, two minds, two reactions and two versions of truth. I won’t try to sell my interpretation as the only verity. If I want a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance, I must give others the same. I know I have done wrong, and I know people have forgiven me. And, so, I want to forgive.

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I must also grow up and own what has happened. I have to accept who I am and the role I played in the situation. Once I do this, I come out stronger, I come out empowered. I can move forward and get on with my life. I don’t hide what has happened, but I own it. I don’t allow it to own me.

To do this, I engage in self-help, self-care, self-growth, and self-realization. I forgive myself and appreciate that even though I was broken by something yesterday, I must be healthy today, because tomorrow is a new day. One that demands I come to it with mindful presence, a hunger to grow, and a desire to make peace with the world as it is.

When I am tempted to wallow in anger and accusation, I have a mantra ready that will quickly lift me out of tenebrous depths and show me the light that can be mine for today, tomorrow, and going forward. I remind myself that I must do my own work in goodness and kindness and grace and that pointing fingers and blaming others will not get me where I need to be.

Two or three days ago, an ex-employee of mine from my restaurant Devi in New York wrote to me. He said, “I’m so sorry, Chef, that when I worked for you, our relationship wasn’t very good. I have come to respect you over the years. My customers tell me that what I am doing is a reflection of Suvir Saran, that my style reminds them of you. More and more I realise that I am following in your example, and I want to thank you for what you’ve taught me.” I wrote back to him, “I hold no grudge against you. When someone hurts me, I react in the moment. I tell them then and there how they are being hurtful, uncivilised, or rude, and then I carry on. I don’t take it to bed.”

I remember the good days and I disregard and forget the bad ones, not because I’m a great person, but because I need to go to sleep without being broken. And so, when I receive an email fifteen years after a bruised relationship ends, I have no ill feelings or regrets that dictate my response.

The smartest amongst us are those who learn from their mistakes and don’t try to hide them. The most gallant amongst us are parents who use their missteps as examples for their children to learn from. They can admit “I was rude, I was harsh, I was not as intuitive or responsive to a situation as I should have been.” Perhaps they were wronged or perhaps they did wrong, but they let bygones be bygones. They don’t live in the past, and are not torn or tormented by it.

When someone wrongs me, what have they gotten from me? They haven’t gotten me, they haven’t gotten my mind, they haven’t gotten my talents, they haven’t robbed me of my peace of mind or my sleep at night or my heart or my soul. The day my affiliation ends with someone is the last day I think about what if something had been different between us. I’m not scratching my skin till I’m bleeding, asking “Why, why, why?” I’m not injecting the people around me with more poison than the original incident inflicted on me. By looking forward, not backwards, I can open myself to experiencing new love, new life, new delectations, new successes, and new interpersonal relationships that make the old one fade away into a part of my life I can come back to when I need to, but it’s not the mainstay of my existence. It doesn’t define me.

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Life, like all journeys, has its ups and downs, its discoveries, its lessons, its joys, its sorrows, its challenges, its victories. The beauty of life is in living it looking forward, with eyes that are wide open and a heart that is ready to feel, a mind that is ready to reflect, and a consciousness that is conscientious about beholding a future full of possibilities.

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