Are you still holding on to that 1980s breakup CD? A childhood teddybear? We often hold on to items that have sentimental value, or continue habits we form in reaction to our past.
Whether they are material objects or behavioral patterns, they anchor us to our past. They tether ourselves to our history, hold on to those energies, and inhibit our ability to move fully into the present. Letting go of past experiences, and the objects mentally connected to them, releases the energy that fuels us into a fulfilling future. As a recovering addict, this is something I'm familiar with. I am mindful each day of continuing to let go of the self-imposed limitations of addiction, and allowing positive experiences and energies to propel me into tomorrow.
Last year I received a tangible reminder. I lived in the seedy part of Hollywood, and shared my community with a large number of people who live on the streets. There are also a lot of drugs around the area. In my experience, homelessness and addiction are commonly (but not always) linked. As a recovering alcoholic and addict, I'm rather comfortable sharing the streets with people who are down on their luck and deep in the struggle of addiction. These are my people.
I saw three of them wandering the street together, yelling about how high they were -- one guy telling his companions he will never do mushrooms again because the trip he's on is so bad. He stopped me, looked me in the eye, and asked me if he looked as bad as he felt. I said yes. His face was so white it looked like he was wearing that foundation the Geisha wear. His eyes bugged out of his head. He was twitching and could not stand still.
"I was hoping you'd say, honey you look great," he said and laughed manically as he broke our eye contact and trotted down the street, both arms waving in the air.
I started to cry as he ran away. Not because I felt sorry for him, but because I was feeling raw and a little nutty in the head myself. In the moment we made eye contact, part of me yearned to get as loaded as he was, just to check out for a while. Though I am lucky enough to have a roof over my head today and a little money in the bank, I know how easy it would be to find myself on the street, shooting up behind dumpsters.
Old habits are hard to break, yesterday is easy to hold on to for all the wrong reasons, so I choose to let go. I release the energy I would have wasted on using, and funnel it into my future. If I held on to my past, I would be too preoccupied to recognize current opportunities. I have now started a goodwill movement, I have a book published that will be released in October, and a website where thousands of people have united to revive the giving spirit in the world by giving one mindful gift a day. These gifts can be material, like letting go of that break up CD or less tangible like smiling at a stranger who makes you uncomfortable. Those things were not possible while I was captive in the cycle of addiction, wasting my time and energy on drugs.
Read more about this experience by reading A Hit of Iced Tea on www.29Gifts.org