“The challenge of life is to appreciate everything and attach yourself to nothing.”– Andrew Matthews in Follow Your Heart
Relationships are all about connections and attachments. We say we are “attached” when referring to the presence of a significant other.
Attachments signify value. It can be material or emotional. You know someone is attached to personal possessions when he or she tends to accumulate useless vintage items for “sentimental” reasons.
Life, however, is about filling and emptying– winning and losing, holding and leaving, hellos and goodbyes, beginnings and endings.
We lose friends or loved ones, things or cherished possessions. In every case of attachment, the sense of loss is just as great as the sense of attachment.
I am a seasoned “loser”, having lost a few times in relationships and in friendships. I’ve also lost valuable things, particularly a cellphone, and the experience taught me a huge lesson in letting go.
I lost my cellphone a few years back while on a night out with friends. It happened so fast and in a blink of an eye, I didn’t just lose an expensive item, but also 2 gigabytes of important data that I failed to back up on my laptop. Depressing since memories are often anchored in images.
On the emotional front, I’m a veteran of broken relationships and friendships. And for me, the pain of breaking up with a best friend is just as unpleasant as parting ways with a boyfriend.
But I learned not to focus too much on my losses. I turn my attention instead on the aftermath, minding my feelings and working on healing them in order to move on.
Sure, I cried buckets at every loss but I made it a point to get up as soon as I dried my tears. Some people may mistake the relatively quick turnover for being “callous” or “stone-hearted”. Others presume I move on easily because of “closure”.
The problem with closure is this: its popular notion presumes that two ex friends or lovers manage to talk things over and say goodbye peacefully. Not always, I say. But that doesn’t mean one can never have closure in relationships with bad endings. I refuse to allow my personal happiness to be dependent on the whims of another, especially that of a bitter one.
There are ex friends who simply turn cold. Instead of spending energies figuring out such frenemies, I let them be. Having found peace in spite of the lack of proper goodbyes, I now know that closure entails self detachment from someone close or something valuable. While mutuality is essential in relationship, it can also end unilaterally through unattachment. Don’t fret for long, though. Just think: It was good while it lasted. Now, on to the next!
From experience, I learned as well that it is best to be unattached at the start of something new. In that scenario, you savor every moment of the present while understanding that it may one day be lost. Hope for the best, and not expect the best.
Unattachment, not detachment, also allows space between people– the kind of space that makes living things grow on their own. In this sense, letting go a little may spell the difference between losing and having. Just like sand, when you hold on too tightly to a relationship, the more it slips away.
So how do I feel now about my stolen mobile phone? After replacing it immediately with a sleeker and more advanced model, I managed to find joy after its loss. But to the one who got my phone: May a thousand fleas infest your armpits. Ha ha ha.