Let It (and you) Go

The walls in New York are generally paper thin but we got lucky with our building where we rarely hear a peep. Even so, every morning at about 11:00am I hear the charming voice of an enthused 3-year-old belting Frozen’s “Let it Go!” with such heartfelt commitment (and perfect pitch) that I find it more inspiring than annoying.

Indeed, letting go has been a message through the ages - a Buddhist principle, a song by Sting, a purvey of Pinterest-able posters. Letting yourself go, however, gets mixed reviews. You should let yourself go emotionally and spiritually, it seems, but physically, you should be mindful, watch what you eat and move your body.

Obviously, taking care of your body is good for you. Why let yourself go when there is so much at stake: better health, mental clarity and an overall sense of well-being? Letting yourself go isn’t just bad for you, it’s foolish. The question becomes not why you should let yourself go - but rather what you fear will happen if you do.

It’s this underlying fear that drives us to work out and watch our carbs. The fear that if we don’t -- all hell will break loose. That our internal, natural mechanism for managing how much we eat and how much we move is broken. Such that, given the option of letting go - your body will go beserk. You will spiral out of control. You will eat yourself into a black hole, embark on a binge with no end. And you will never, ever (ever) leave your couch again.

The extent to which you keep your body in check is often similar to how you keep your life in check. It is the level to which you think you can control your world, and the level to which you think that is necessary (because you don’t trust it to take care of itself - or you).  Letting yourself go becomes more than just an invitation to let your body have its way with you; it’s an invitation for the world to have its way with you. Which, depending on how you view the world, can be a terrifying thought.

But also deeply liberating. That’s the invitation of letting yourself go. To remove the training wheels of restrictive eating and the floaties of your fixed workout routine. To feel that indescribable high of riding or swimming without any support, just that internal understanding kicking in, which, once acquired, you will never lose. To fall on the pavement, or take some gulps of water in exchange for the freedom and confidence that comes from being able to trust your innate sense of self. To be like the bird in Victor Hugo’s poem:

Be like the bird, who, halting in her flight awhile

On a branch too slight, feels it give way beneath her,

Yet sings, knowing she hath wings.

- Victor Hugo