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Listen to let go (the power of Question Number 13)

Each of the questions resonated with me, but number 13 had a special ring to it. I had been sitting for an hour or two pondering my responses to the first 12 questions, then came number 13. It give me special pause for thought.

What is it that I need to let go of - what now needs to die? ‘What is the old stuff …what is the old skin (behaviours, thought processes and more) that you need to shed?. This is the 13th question of 17 in a guided journaling process.

All you need is a pen and paper and the courage to make some time to sit quietly, with yourself or others, to listen. That’s all.

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Earlier this month I entered my 7th decade and it dawned on me that I now have a whole year to prepare myself for the moment when I am 70 years old. And I wonder, if I make it to that age, what would lie beyond.

My friend, Patricia Koster who works with the dying, spoke about what she often sees when that final moment is approaching. Often in those last days, weeks or months the abundance of medical machinery minimises pain but does little to help the dying with the overwhelming rush of impressions, fears, reflections and regrets all piling in together. So much life to reflect on, yet so little time left.

How much better it is, Patricia suggested, to do this work while you still have time. Good advice, I thought, well received.

So now I'm looking out for ways to journey back. I imagine myself creating a timeline of memories, images, documents and sounds back to 1950 and probably even further to include stories from my parents.

I read my dusty diaries of my young adulthood and find myself stirred with a mix of longing and relief as I read of turbulent times crowded with challenging job, building projects and hot and cold tangled relationships. My young everything-is-possible voice on an audiotape sent to my parents from South Africa for Christmas 1972 washes colour into the fading black and white sketch of those days.

And now, seeing so many others, so much younger than me, already achieving things which I would love to have done, grinds, twists and turns somewhere inside me.

And with all my quiet pondering and reflection I notice something. I notice that by fully going back and touching those moments, something mysterious happens. Whilst the memory remains, the sharp edges of longing, joy, sorrow, delight or anguish all gradually fade. The memories let go of me. They leave me in peace.

And with that letting go and the fading of the sharp edges, I notice another magic thing happens - it becomes ever more possible to imagine the life which lies ahead. It’s as if I had been restrained by elastic straps wrapped around my middle and fastened to the post of each experience. Then it is released. No longer held back, I'm free to move forward.

So my listening to let go is a gift to myself. Patricia Koster, Susanne Conrad (1) and I are now prototyping a gift for ourselves and others who want to grow the practice of listening to ‘what now needs to die’. We envisage small, very safe virtual groups across time zones, to listen to let go. I listen, you listen, we listen together - to let go and invite the life which lies ahead. And with this present practice we will make it easier to let go of life when our time has come.

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1 We are team members of the Virtual Listening Campus which is one of some 300 teams within uLab-S

Posted on 17-05-2019 at 17:43

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Our ears are our primary, but not only, organ for hearing. By choosing to attune our brains, we practice listening, and will hear more. And as we hear more we will think, and act, powerfully from that place.

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