We may be bothered by a problem. “Let go of it. Get over it,” our friends advise. We may fear the result of letting go so we continue to do something that is inconsistent with what we want to achieve. However, if we are prepared for change, I suggest that we let go of our fear of letting go, and rely on our values and abilities to take us to a result we desire.
Letting go is easier said than done, we feel. We may fear the result of letting go so we continue to do something that is inconsistent with what we want to achieve. For example, I once tried to step off a dock into an untethered canoe. I assumed that I could board a free-floating canoe as easily as I stepped into a canoe that is roped to a dock. But, as I boarded the untethered canoe, it drifted away from the pier. One foot was in the canoe and one foot was on the dock. I couldn’t continue to be in both places at once so I let go of the security of the dock and moved into the canoe. I had little fear of letting go of the dock other than the possibility of a cool dip in the lake on a hot summer day. However, when we fear results of a change that we wish to make and the risks of our action are greater than a dunk in the lake, we may have trouble letting go.
I experienced letting go of my fear of letting go when I flew my first kite at seven years of age. One Saturday Uncle Wally arrived at our home to teach me how to build a kite. He believed that a store-bought kite was not appropriate for my first flight experience. Uncle Wally valued design and build of a project from scratch. He trusted his abilities and put his values and energy into his work.
For me, though, I had never built or flown a kite. I felt overwhelmed with the complexity of the work before us. Uncle Wally said, “Let’s build our kite together.” Here was my opportunity to create a kite that would fly.
Building a kite from scratch was complicated. First, we scavenged parts. Uncle Wally valued recycling before it became desirable practice. We fashioned rough-cut wood stays from construction debris. These became the kite’s frame. We bowed a cross stay with string that would become the kite’s horizontal arm over the vertical stay. We then fastened the cross stay to the vertical stay and connected the four points of the diamond shaped perimeter with string. Newspaper was draped over the kite’s frame and adhered to the perimeter string with library paste. Like a sail on a boat, the bow in the paper would provide the correct amount of surface for the wind to lift the kite. With too much bow the kite would spiral downward to an untimely crash. Too little bow, and the kite wouldn’t climb.
The kite’s tail was fashioned from knotted rags we pillaged from Mother’s rag bin. If the tail was too long, drag would prevent the kite’s climb. Too short and the tail would follow the doomed kite to a fatal crash. Paper and glue dried over night. Our maiden flight was planned for the next day.
I heard Uncle Wally’s voice above the wind. “Run,” he said as I sprinted into the April morning. I held the kite above my head as I ran. I heard the snap of taught paper and felt the wind pull on my arm.
“Let go,” he yelled.
I couldn’t let go.
I feared the kite would crash. My gut churned with worry. What if the wind was too strong or not brisk enough? If she crashed, all of our work would be lost. As I approached the end of the field I felt an urgency to release the kite. I let go and she roared like a rocket into the sky.
Uncle Wally wrapped the kite’s string around my hand. Wind lifted my arm, pulling as an adult might raise a fallen child. I hardly noticed that the jerking taught string had cut grooves in my small hand. The pain in my hand confirmed that the kite wouldn’t fly until I let go.
When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
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Richard Wilberg, MS, PLCC, ACC
Life Coach for Personal Fulfillment and Career Success
About the Author
Richard Wilberg is a coach, musician, photographer, and former business leader who lives in Madison, Wisconsin.