The Ties That Bind Portrait, Maria
Letting go is one of life's most difficult lessons, at least for me, and it is also one of the most difficult things for people to accept in another person.
I was reminded of this this morning when I posted about the loss of six months worth of my photographs yesterday, about the fact that I was comfortable letting go of them, I didn't really want or need to get them back. Rather than panic and rush to recover them I said goodbye and went outside to take some new pictures.
This, as I learned, is a hard thing for some people to accept.
Online and off, I was instantly flooded with advice and ideas about reclaiming the photographs – go to the recycle, bin, check back up, didn't I have the Cloud?, have the hard drive examined and searched? There was that old feeling of panic, of scrambling, of getting another program, another device, of making life even more complicated.
One person suggested that old people learn to let go out of necessity, yet I don't think this had anything to do with age, young people are more burdened than anyone in our culture, and many are quite deft at letting go, they have no choice. Online, a number of people cheered on the idea of letting go, but my inbox quickly filled up with tech support, as it often does with vet support when an animal is sick.
We have this noble instinct to help, but what does help really mean in this case? We are manipulated into thinking we need so many things, and then we need to spend even more money to protect them at all costs? Help is also listening and understanding, which many people did.
But what is the real consequence of losing so many photographs? Who will suffer for it? Do I really need to save 50,000 pictures no one is likely to need or see (think of how many new photos there will be in the universe in just a few years) just so I can buy some more drives from Apple?
We have this reflex in our world that it is possible to live forever, that dogs will never die, and that we can save everything, at all costs, by any means. But this feels like fear and habit to me more than reason. This is what we are taught to think. This is what they need us to think.
I often panicked about saving my photos, but yesterday, I didn't. Something had changed inside of me, I feel it's time to let that go, and not just the pictures. It is a good lesson in life. There are so many things I need to let go of, the Dalai Lama has written letting go is essential to a spiritual life.
Letting go is essential to my mental and spiritual health, letting go of photos, of old papers and books, of grudges and resentments, feuds and hurts, jealousies and laments. They are all weights to bear, too heavy for me. I am eager to let go of those things. I am not angry at my parents, or my teachers, or the bosses I disliked, or the dreams that were shattered. Enough, enough, enough.
I am staggering under the din and pressure of all things I am told I need. I want to be lighter, freer.
I was struck that is was almost impossible for some people to conceive that I was comfortable letting go of the photographs, even relieved. I loved many of them, but they are the past, and I live in the now. I can always take more photographs. I already have, and there are thousands still hanging around in folders and drives.
Perhaps this is also about simplicity.
Our lives are getting so complex, it is hard to think or feel sometimes. I feel I am constantly being manipulated into buying and needing things I don't really want or need. If you want to save your photos, as it happens, you need expensive drives. You may need monthly payments to the Cloud. More devices to maintain, pay for, remember, buy plugs and cables for, more software and passwords.
I love my photos, I am happy to thank them and say goodbye. That is not the same as needing them.
In my first piece, I think I failed to set forth the deeper rational for letting things go. People seemed to take pity on me, to rush to help with what they saw as a technical problem in need of advice. People are good that way. But it isn't a technical problem, I know all too well how to save and store stuff. And it has become an automatic, rather than thoughtful process.
It is a spiritual problem, a life problem. For my sake as well as our Mother, the Earth, I need to think about letting go, about what it is I truly need as opposed to what it is corporations and well-meaning people think I need and tell me I need and have to buy. I'm working on it.
The letting go of the photographs was a big step forward for me.
I am happy about it, this is a turning point for me. The Cloud cannot help me.
As someone who has been writing online for more than three decades, I am surprised that people think I don't know about backing things up, or about the Cloud. I do, and I also know that all of those things failed yesterday, as they often do.
We live in a world where there are not easy and perfect solutions to problems, sometimes we just have to accept life and let go.