How To Let Go: A festival of lights

Let Go: At last, I see the light

Living in the moment.

I had been in the process of letting go of someone for a while, along with a lot of things from my past that I had not taken the time to process and feel. On the last day of my 40 Days Without Social Media cleanse, I went to a light festival. It was the most present and most beautiful thing I could have done to close the chapter of my life I was so desperate to find closure for. It had also been the event that happened to fall on the 40th day, the one event that confirmed the decision to take a break from social media, the one that started it all.

Having known that this was an event that I would definitely want to live stream or post a million pictures while I was there, made it especially hard on my last day of the cleanse to refrain from living the moment on social media. And although I was tempted, I remained present at the event. I can say that truly living in the moment for something like this was worth more than posting about it in that exact moment, that’s for sure.

Don’t get me wrong, the photographer in me still took some amazing pictures, like the one you see above. I had to capture magic in motion. One has to take a picture. But, they were only a few, and none were of me. Being a part of something like this, made you want to take a look around you and really take in the reason why you, along with everyone else was drawn to experience something like this.

Letting go, feeling free.

Sure it looks cool, of course it will get you a legit Instagram shot, but once you’re actually there, experiencing it, having the opportunity to literally light fire to something and let it go or wish it well—well that’s something you can’t see or feel on social media. That’s called real life, and it’s worth the present moment, if you allow yourself the opportunity to feel it.

I myself, along with a lot of people that attended this, had some sort of expectation of what exactly they wanted out of this event. A legit photo, oh for sure. I mean Rapunzel from Tangled was even there, this was her birthday party after all. 

But, in the moment, when it was finally time to light the lantern, something happened—something changed. Well, at least for me that is. The whole time leading up to this day I was wondering what exactly I wanted to “let go” or “wish well” when I lit that lantern. There were so many things I had been holding on to for so long, I didn’t feel like I had time to list them all.

In my mind, I was under the impression that it would mean more if it really was only one thing I decided to “let go” or “wish well.” But before I knew it, it was time to let the lanterns go. They started playing the first song. I was going to be the one in the group to light my lantern and set it free first.

It all happened so fast.

The song Hallelujah started playing in the background. A strong gulp formed right at my throat. Frantically, I was trying to pin point the one thing I wanted to set free. Then all of a sudden, the lists of things, people, pain and heartache, everything that I wanted to let go within that lantern were silenced. My mind went blank; I had no words. The song was distant but I could still hear it. Then suddenly, as I so desperately tried to grab my mental list and pick something, I felt this wave of peace and I heard a soft whisper say:

Just, let go.”

At first I thought, okay God is just telling me to literally let go of this thing, and just watch the magic of all the lanterns turn into stars as they floated away into the sky. But months later, I realized what I really heard Him say and what it really meant.

Sure, at the moment, the whisper was literal. The warm air had inflated the paper lantern and I needed to let it go before it caught fire, but it meant something much more than what I had interpreted then. As I was trying so desperately to pinpoint one thing to move on or let go of, the whisper was really just telling me to let go—of everything. Surrender control.

Stop dwelling on the past. Stop asking or wondering why something didn’t work out. Stop worrying. Stop forcing things. Stop holding on to things. Stop knocking on closed doors.

Just. Let. Go. 

Kinda like, I got this. You don’t need to hold on to this anymore. You don’t need to worry, wonder, control, force, hold on, or keep knocking—you just have to trust.

A wave of peace.

There was something about everyone lighting a fire to represent hope, a prayer, a goodbye to something or someone…a hello to someone in Heaven, or a release of some sort, that made the experience so peaceful.

There was something about watching other people anticipate the lantern release, really looking at them. Really watching their face and trying to understand them. How their facial expression changed when they lit the fire. How all of a sudden they became so human.

That for a slight moment of reminding themselves of the pain or the loss, the hopes and the dreams, they all let it go. They all wished it well and surrendered in their own way, and you saw peace in their eyes for just a small moment.

Sometimes in order to let go of what we are going through we need to physically experience it. We need to literally let it go. We need to write it down in a letter, send a balloon to the sky, light a lantern. That literal release goes a long way. It lets the mind know that it’s time to let go. It’s time to move on and set whatever it is that is causing you pain or holding you back, free. That literal release is calling you, saying:

You don’t have to worry about this anymore, you don’t have to hurt like this anymore.”

And if you’re lucky, in that moment of letting go, you get to experience that with people who unknowingly are there for the same reason. You get to watch all the pain and hurt be mixed with the innocent wishes and promises of love, be lifted up into the dark sky.

It’s almost poetic actually. We were in the middle of nowhere, the sky was pitch black, you could actually see the stars. And among everyone’s pain, hopes, dreams, life and light, the lanterns turned into a different set of stars that night. Together, creating this energy that was so pure, so magical.

The relief and love everyone was feeling really lit up the sky. It was as if parts of our souls, strangers from all over had just ignited something and shared it all together in an open sky. That was what made the experience so beautiful. The silence of our hearts were ignited. We quietly whispered our wishes or fed the fire the pieces we wished to part us that night, something so personal made everyone there connected in some way. Even if it was just for a brief moment.

Everyone is a guide.

While at this light festival and throughout my 40 day cleanse, I was in fact trying to let go of someone, in the midst of also coming to terms with the things from my past that still weighed heavy on my heart. The idea of letting someone go or cutting someone off from our lives completely is something that I personally always struggle with. 

What if I still have something to learn from them? What if I still have feelings for them? What if we are all supposed to stay connected for the bigger picture? These among many other questions, seem to always implode my mind. I hear the thought of letting them go, but I fight so hard to keep them.

I have always had friends come and go in my life. As I grew older or I started following a different path, these people would start to stay behind or take another road themselves. I always understood that I might not see them again. But for some reason, some people are harder to let go than others.

The best thing I have ever learned in life was that not everyone is meant to stay in your life forever. And that is okay. Probably one of my most played songs on repeat last year was Kaleidoscope by Coldplay. It’s a song in the form of a poem titled “The Guest House” by the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi.

The powerful words of this poem, backed by the soothing sounds of Coldplay, really did a number on me this past year. It kind of signified and confirmed that, Hey, I know you’ve been through some shitty stuff, but in the end, it’s all going to be worth it, trust me. 

It wasn’t until probably the 100th time I heard this song that I finally understood what it wanted me to hear. Everyone that you meet in life is a guide. They are put in your path for a reason. It might take you a while to understand that reason, but once you do, man let me tell you how liberating it feels to finally understand—to finally be able to let them go.

Chris Martin said it best, about the poem, in an interview with NME:

It kind of changed my life. It says that everything that happens to you is OK. It’s about accepting the negative along with the positive. It’s about every feeling that you have being a gift. Self-doubt and depression as well as all the joyful feelings are all useful if you can harness them.”

In the months following letting that lantern go, I processed some of the things on my list. I took the time to harness the good with the bad. I understood all the guides that had crossed my path to this day—I understood why it was so important to let some of them go.

And at last, I saw the light. It was as if the fog had lifted, like the sky was new. Everything was different, everything was at peace. Finally. And the reason it made everything so clear, came from a soft whisper I heard right before I let the lantern go: Just. Let. Go.

Lovely life Lesson:

Letting go is never easy. But we have to let go of the things we hold hostage in our hearts if we ever want to open a new door or find peace. Sometimes we need to literally let something go so that our mind can connect the release of our soul. Maybe try writing a letter, releasing a balloon, throwing something into a body of water—so you can literally feel the release, so you can finally start to let go.

Everyone comes into your life for a reason. We might not know that reason right away, or sometimes we might know it immediately. Regardless, those people you have in your life now will help you unlock something within yourself. If we learned to recognize the people holding us back sooner, it would make it a lot easier to understand why we need to let them go. So we can move on to the next chapter, so we can continue on our journey.

Everyone you have ever met has taught you something. Think back. It might have been something you were looking for in another person or a lesson you had been on the path to eventually learn. Whatever the reason, people cross your path to make you better.

You might not see it now, especially if they are toxic. But in the end, you will understand what you want and what you’re really worth. You will understand why they were put on your path, and you can thank them in a letter, release a balloon, or light a lantern to the sky to move on and keep moving forward.

Here’s the poem. Read it however many times you need to. Trust me, I’ve read it a million times and will probably continue to read it again and again. You are not alone. 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.


let go

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