Life is a series of events that encourage letting go, and some of these releases only occur in depth and profundity when you are finally a parent. I know because my parents told me so, and it’s one of life’s painful beauties. Other occasions of letting go are sometimes imperceptible, and some don’t hit you until they are physically in front of your face. Walking through downtown Raleigh and seeing how the city has changed, I let go. I had to.
Many of the lifestyle habits that I associated with who I am and what I liked doing are simply impossible. I’m not going to sit at a bar, attend a concert, really have an unsolicited conversation where no-one needs anything from me and vice-versa; we’re all wearing masks, literally speaking, while out in public, and this doesn’t assist with social cues or the friendliness of a smile. During my morning walks, I’ve taken to nodding at people. If I don’t wear a mask, but they do, somehow this gesture of welcoming helps create some feeling of connection.
I’m not going to travel with ease, listen to stories at an airport bar, comfort someone afraid to fly by holding their hand. I can’t just go out for lunch and write and let people’s energy swirl around the room and feel comforting while being left alone.
People want the world to change, but into what, is what I’d like to know.
Letting go of a certain kind of existence can be cathartic. It can also be painful. It can also bring a feeling as empty as the bars and restaurants where I started to create memories when I moved here, as lacking as the plans to visit museums, cafes, parks, historic sites. The self-help gurus would say that being in this current environment is a new way of being and it should be embraced. I try to focus on what I do have instead of what I don’t. But seeing a city turned into a ghost town is a tangible reminder of everyone’s loss of identity, of flow and of being. And while there is no going back, there is no united voice for going forward.
Rather than let go of what isn’t and begin to plan for what could be, this idea of “normal” is bandied about as if we should go back there.
Perhaps the protests and the true awareness of our society’s flaws will be heard. Maybe something will happen other than a few statues coming down. How about bring down the institutions that keep people poor, some poorer, and that consistently categorize everyone? I don’t know. I don’t know anything about this stuff other than what I’ve been doing my whole life: Be kind to everyone, be a good person, listen and support.
It sounds like that has never been enough because enough people don’t understand what it means, and yet that habit, that identity, that part of who I am…I am not going to let go of that.