Freedom and Letting Go

We’ve all heard it! Since the movie Frozen became a hit, and John Travolta introduced “Adele Dazeem” instead of Idina Menzel at the Oscars, the tune Let it Go has been heard in school plays, elevators, restaurants, Disney ice shows, and dozens of other music venues.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with it, the song is the main character’s (Elsa’s) declaration of liberty. After years of hiding her ability to create ice and snow at will, she treks up a mountain singing, “the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all. It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through.” That’s all well and good, but then she sings, “no right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free.” Elsa then uses her power to build an ice castle, imprisons herself alone, and plunges her hometown into an eternal winter. She has good intentions, protecting her sister Anna, but there are terrible consequences.

Ever since I first saw the movie, which ultimately has a positive message, and every time I hear the song, I become introspective. For me “letting go” means relaxing into the moment, accepting things as they are, and moving forward without clinging to old hurts, desires, resentments, fears, and disappointments. Elsa’s song is more about giving in to desires and expressing oneself regardless of the consequences. Mistakenly, Elsa thinks that focusing on her own solution is the answer, but her path just solidifies her fears and actually impedes any true freedom.

After much thought, I realize my discomfort comes from the fact that I, like Elsa, have a deep need to control situations and there is a part of me that wants what I want, when I want it. Yet that path does nothing to alleviate any of the fear that undergirds it. I am old enough to know that the only thing I really have any control over is my attitude, and most of the time I experience the extreme difficulty of that task.

My experience has also taught me that whenever I strive to “claim my power,” I am actually less “liberated.” That happens because I am not reaching out for a “we” experience, but I am building my own ice castle, so that I can do things the way I see fit. Like Elsa, in an effort to make the situation “better” I have charged forward, with little introspection, communication, or empathy, believing that my way is the path to freedom. As Elsa and I have discovered, those choices lead to greater fear, isolation, and more chaos.

When I hear people say, “I’m taking back my power,” they generally mean they intend to put themselves in an adversarial position. It also implies that, at some time in the past, they felt their power was taken (or given) away. Since true strength is found at the very core of being, it may lie undiscovered, be buried or suppressed, but it can never truly be given or taken away. It is who I really am.

What most people describe as power is merely an extension of the ego. It is mere window dressing! I may increase my financial wealth. I may strengthen my body. I may improve my mind, I may even have plastic surgery to change my appearance, but the core of my being is beyond alteration. It is the part of me that exists beyond time and place. It is the truest me, the me that belongs to the eternal “we.” It is true power!

Finding one’s inner strength has less to do with worldly accolades and more to do with being grounded. When I have a strong sense of who I am at my center, and focus less on the incidentals and appearances, I am better equipped to extract myself from drama and be a channel of peace. For me, and many others, this also involves a sense of knowing “whose I am.” When I consider myself a son or daughter of the Eternal Source, I have less need to be acknowledged or validated by someone else. My ability to “let go” becomes less of a struggle and I experience greater patience with myself and the other. My soul becomes open to greater expressions of love and sacrifice. I am more capable of seeing and being a path to peace. I am not there yet, but (even at my age) I am a work in progress.

I think that a better song about productive letting go comes from the pen of poet Richard Lovelace.

Stone walls do not a prison make,
Nor iron bars a cage;
Minds innocent and quiet
Take that for a hermitage.
If I have freedom in my love,
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone, that soar above,
Enjoy such liberty.

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