The last time I really, really had a hard time letting go, I took a road trip through the American West. Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Arizona …
Every time I’d see a white Toyota Highlander on the highway (you can’t imagine how many there are, especially in rural California) I’d think of her. That’s what she drove.
Driving through the beautiful (and not so beautiful) countryside, Jackson Browne singing soulfully, soothingly and meaningfully from the iPod attached to my car stereo, I’d see another Highlander… and another… and every time I’d feel the loss, the hurt, tally up the ways we failed — I failed — think about what might have been, all the while trying desperately to stop the whirlpool of thoughts swirling down into despair.
Of course, I didn’t. Not right then. However, screaming my intention did release the voice of my inner frustration to the point I could chuckle at myself. Maybe we need to do that before we can really start letting go: laugh at our ridiculous condition.
Eventually, I did let go, but in that way in which we accomplish so much in our lives.
One day, weeks and weeks after returning home, a white Highlander went by on the highway. I thought of her. She came to mind without need, without pain. She came to mind gently, with compassion, accompanied by appreciation for what we’d shared, and for what I’d learned and experienced because I had known her. I could accept her faults, and my own, without wishing we could have resolved or changed them. I could finally love her, just as she is, without needing her to be anyone else, without needing her to love me back in any way.
I sat with that for a while, on a pretty drive up the Sea to Sky Highway, before it occurred to me that I’d been seeing white Highlanders for days without thinking of her. White Highlanders stopped being a beacon for my loss, because I no longer felt I’d lost anything.