When you really want something, the advice to ‘let go’ seems crazy. Yet when you look more closely, it becomes clear that holding on can destroy the very things you want.
It reminds me of a story of catching monkeys. When I checked, some say the story comes from Asia, other sources claim South America – maybe it’s both. The way the monkey trap works is this. The monkey hunter uses a container that has a narrow opening at the top just large enough for a monkey’s hand. This container is tethered firmly to the jungle floor and inside the hunter puts all sorts of food that monkeys love.
As the sun warms the container, it spreads a delicious aroma. When a monkey picks up the scent, it’s drawn to the container and reaches inside for the food. But when it tries to withdraw, its clenched hand is too big to come out.
Now, rather than drop the food and regain its freedom, the monkey hangs on. Even as the hunter approaches with a net, the monkey struggles to keep the food. It’s bad for the monkey which ends up in a zoo, or worse.
The parallel is obvious – what do we hold on to so tightly, refusing to let go, that causes us to lose our freedom? What appears to be worth so much that it costs your liberty?
Holding too tightly has another danger – it can destroy the very thing we are holding. As children we learn that if we grasp a butterfly too hard we will crush it. The pretty, dancing creature that delights us is put in jeopardy by an overbearing grip.
Instead, if we want to hold a butterfly, we can cup it gently, creating a space with both hands that respects its delicate nature. This way we stop it flying away but the downside is that we cannot see it – our hands hide its beauty.
Better still is to wait quietly near nectar bearing flowers and watch closely as the butterflies come and go. They are free in their natural element as they dance in the sunshine. Sometimes they will rest, wings open, and you can enjoy their full magnificence. You may even find that they touch down on your outstretched hand.
You may be thinking that although this seems desirable, it is all rather dreamy and a shade too passive. So let’s get practical:
1. What are you holding onto that is taking your freedom?
2. What are you holding so tightly that you are crushing the life out?
3. What could you do to attract the ‘butterfly’ you wish for?
Depending on your answers, choose one step to take and notice the difference!