To not let go is to memorize a particular moment to the point of madness.
It’s to bask in the warmth of that one Sunday morning, the way the sun broke through the blinds and fell across their unmade bed. It’s the moment before you fall asleep, as you relay their voice in your head; just to make sure you still can, just to make sure you don’t forget the crack in ‘Hello,’ the rise and fall of ‘Goodbye.’ It’s folding up that first, hand-written note and slipping it into your breast pocket — not necessarily to read, but simply to know it’s there.
Not letting go is knowing the exact placement of that freckle, the one on the knuckle of their middle finger; it’s noticing the way they’d bite their lip after saying, “Yeah” – the way the sand always clung to the curve of their neck. It’s the burnt lungs, the burnt skin, the unforgiving crackle of a bonfire.
It’s the only photograph you had taken together, buried within the pages of your favorite book; that one about love by Alain de Botton — the one your father gave you. It’s knowing that it’s safe there, protected from the often cruel movements of the outside world, immortalized in the only way you know how. It’s the way you still care.
It’s a song on repeat, it’s the way you take your coffee because that is how they took theirs and you got in the habit of ordering it the same way, it’s an empty wine glass. It’s the stubbed out butt of a cigarette. It’s the softening of a come-down, the breaking of a fall — the keeping ourselves busy and all the time alone. It’s the crashing of a wave, the crow of a seagull, the rain against an old, tin roof. It’s the ink across your wrist, the drunken laughter of a crowd, the clinking of glasses at night, and the pressing silence of that one Sunday morning. It’s the way time seemed to move so slowly, back then; dripping rich and golden, like honey from a butter knife.
Time seems to move so ferociously now; like the howling wind against our winter-chapped lips.
To not let go is to allow the moments of our past to seep into our present, filling every line and crack with insanity-inducing nostalgia; the kind that rips and tears at you in the gentlest, most relentless kind of way. It’s us letting our memories define the way we move.
To let go would be to surrender: to our daily experiences, to new impressions and new definitions — ones which, though perhaps less immediately entrancing, carry the freedom of non-association, the freedom of emptiness. Please know that nothing in the world is quite as beautiful as emptiness; the way it swells with untouched, unbridled potential – the way it lets in new light, lets in new love.
So here’s what you have to do: You have to focus on these memories, focus on them in all their clarity and in all their haziness. You have to line them up, as you would a collection of old, digital photographs on a computer screen. Open them and hit ‘zoom’ and peer inside. Gaze at each and every pixel, glorious in their own significance – in their own minuteness. Appreciate them for all their beauty, accept them for all their pain; all their would haves, all their could haves, all their should haves.
And then hit “delete”.
Delete. Delete. Delete. Delete.
Feel yourself growing empty as they vanish. It’s okay, you’re allowed to, you’re meant to. Delete, delete, delete. Feel yourself reclaiming Sunday mornings, feel yourself reclaiming the sun’s warmth against your face, feel yourself reclaiming the pages of your favorite book and the bitterness of your morning coffee and the salt against your skin.
Now listen. Listen to your heart, beating away softly — lightly, as it did once before. Listen to the wind coursing through the wilting leaves of a nearby tree, listen to the rain landing, quietly against the very same pavement of the very same street, the one which once carried so much and carried so little.
Hear the waves as they roar in harmony with a wild, new tune; a wild, new melody.
This is the sound of letting go; the sound of being empty – and nothing could be more beautiful; nothing could be more yours.