Writer’s Block: How Do We Know When It’s Time to Let Go?

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By Corinne Wnek

There’s a great song from a wonderful sixties group, The Byrds, entitled “Turn, Turn, Turn” that speaks to the nature of life as uncertain and ever changing.

The words are actually taken from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament of the Bible and they are as true today as they were back in the days of manna, loincloths and bare feet. The song is sad because it speaks about the loss of things we love, yet; it is uplifting because it offers hope, as evidenced in the line from the refrain, “to everything there is a season.” In other words, joy follows sorrow like spring follows winter.

The song is comforting to remember when we are faced with challenges in our own life, especially when unwanted changes come our way. Maybe the change is a waning friendship, or children who move away from us, or a broken relationship that formerly offered so much promise. Maybe there is a long-term friendship that has gone awry, a dream that has been shattered or even death itself. So how do we manage our lives when our dreams become our nightmares? Sometimes we just have to let them go and say good-bye. Or, we can change the dream.

Take marriage, for instance. Two people meet, date, commit to forever, maybe have children and after a number of years decide to end the relationship. Upon reflection, they tell shocked family and friends that the union was really over years ago, but for some reason, didn’t feel compelled to split, perhaps believing that something would change. They finally concluded that the end had come.

Someone I know was finally able to conceive and give birth to a child after many years of trying unsuccessfully. Like any excited new parent, there was a whole host of dreams for their child. Maybe he would be another Einstein, or Derek Jeter or perhaps a governor or even president. Then at age two there came a diagnosis of multiple handicaps and other assorted disabilities. In the words of this parent, “I knew at that moment the dreams for my child were over, but I still can’t seem to let go of them.”

A teacher at my school is struggling with her father’s dementia. He is no longer the person he was a year ago and she no longer has the same father she had a year ago, although physically he looks the same. “I can’t seem to say good-bye to Dad”, she says. “because on some days he seems like his old self until suddenly, the blank stare comes back.”

It’s hard to let go of something, or someone, when we continue to cling tightly to an illusion. When we are ready to substitute a new dream for the old one, then will we be more able to let go. People in a relationship irretrievably broken have an opportunity to open themselves up to new experiences, if they are willing. The parents of the handicapped child have found new dreams in their son whose penchant for art might have lain dormant if athletics dominated his life. And my teacher friend’s reminiscing walks down memory with her father have become more like ‘hellos’ instead of ‘good-byes’. They found a new way to stay connected.

How true it is, especially at Thanksgiving time, that “there is a season for every purpose unto heaven.”

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