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March 10, 2017

Part of the practice of Yoga is the art - yes, art - of letting go. Expounded on throughout Yogic text is this profound practice of releasing things/emotions/thoughts that no longer serve you. Simply put: sometimes, as you transform that once square opening is no longer square, it's round. As we all know: a square peg just doesn't go into a round hole.

The following is a brief example from my own personal experience. The intent of this story is to demonstrate that sometimes letting go of one thing can lead to revelation that may ultimately bring resolution to your own life.

In 1976 a chain of events was set into motion. It wasn't until 32 years later that it came full circle. It was the day I let go of old samskara and created room for new.

Pappy represented, in this young fella’s eyes, someone to be emulated and revered. The downside of being a six year old is that not often is a six year old self-realized.

In 1976 my mother re-married and voila: new grandparents - shake and stir. I think, like any six year old, I wanted to be accepted by my 'new' Granddad and my 'new' family.  My step-father's family were a mish-mosh of suburbanites and country-folk as was my mother's. This new Granddad, I soon learned, was to be addressed as "Pap" or "Pappy". Pappy represented, in this young fella's eyes, someone to be emulated and revered. The downside of being a six year old is that not often is a six year old self-realized.

Moving ForwardPhysically he wasn't exceptionally tall but he had that dyed-in-the wool silver hair and leather skin giving way to hands that spoke "I'm from the country".  For someone like me who, at the time, hadn't experienced an active or even interested Grandfather this was, I thought, I was going to make the most of it. He  had all the trappings of what I've learned to expect of older country folk: hunting dogs, plenty of land, gardens full of potatoes and assorted vegetables, sheep for livestock, and a healthy green pasture for hunting whatever manner of beast or fowl he dern well pleased or, as I was accustomed to, getting lost in a wondrous world of imagination; wandering about for hours on a Sunday afternoon chasing "Injun's".

When we would visit, if I wasn't up in the "Hollow", I was with him helping in the garden (as much as a six year old can). I tried anything to engage him in conversation about his life and the things he'd done throughout his life.  Unfortunately, Pappy wasn't the talkative kind.  He did, however, talk about hunting - a lot. With that knowledge in mind I determined to learn as much as I could so that I could communicate with him in a language I knew he would understand.

I spent every other weekend doing whatever I could do to get his attention.  I even asked him if I could go hunting with him some time.  The rote response was always one of or a combination of "You're too young" or "You're too little". [pause right there] - Don't ever tell a child they're too little - maybe too young but never too little. What I learned just a few months ago was that was not the case. It was actually against my mother's wishes - and she, I've learned, knew me better than I did myself.

There was an occasion circa 1982 when I told Pappy that I was not too young anymore (I'd just turned 12). I let him know (in respectful terms) that I was aware of all of the hunting laws because I studied  them for weeks!  I even knew the model and caliber of his favorite rifle: a Marlin 30/30 with the prettiest scope and, to top if all off, lever-actioned - like the cowboys used back in the "Old West". I told him the only thing missing was actually holding one in my hands at which point I motioned up to one of several he possessed. I was swiftly rebuffed. I was once again told the same thing. I hid my rage. I hid my tears. This was something that had a lasting impression on me.

Since that time and into adulthood I only hunted one time. That one instance of hunting was purposeful and leads into another story about being headbutted by an Ostrich....YES...an Ostrich. But that's another story for another time. The shotgun I used was a .410 gauge for squirrels.  The shotgun was given to me as a birthday gift that I treasured because it was formerly owned by my Father-In-Law.

For me, it was the feeling of finally giving Pap a big “Fuck YOU!” That. Was. Empowering. This, despite my military and law enforcement background, was a triumph for me.

A divorce and several years later I found myself at the local gun shop. That day I left with, you guessed it, a Marlin 30/30 lever-action rifle with the prettiest scope ever.  I cleaned it. I assembled it. I disassembled it. I treasured it. For me, it was the feeling of finally giving Pap a big "Fuck YOU!" That. Was. Empowering. This, despite my military and law enforcement background, was a triumph for me.

Still, I proudly clung to it. Until...

As part of my Yoga practice a couple years ago I began de-cluttering. I cleaned out closets full of stuff. Let's just say the Goodwill and the Salvation Army provided me with some nice tax deductions each year. The rifle collected dust.

One day, after a particularly intense practice, during savasana my thoughts drifted back to '76 and then '82 and the chain of events unfolded for me.  Holding onto that rifle meant holding onto hurt feelings. Hurt feelings are a symptom of Ego. I experienced the full range of emotions right down to that 12 year old coming out and crying "Why not?", "Don't you love me?" and so many others. And then there was peace.

I've often preached (if-you-will) that no one's self-worth or self-esteem can be bound by, with, or into inanimate objects or samskara. I was wrong. However, I've learned that it doesn't always have to be that way. That I, you, and anyone else can break through the chains of samskara - if you're willing to do the work.

It took two days to find a buyer. The guy asked if I was serious about my price because it was so far under market value. I told him I was letting go of it and had plans for the money - for something that wouldn't cost me anything and was healthy.

With the proceeds I bought a heat gun and some PVC parts. I made my own didgeridoo.

~ Namaste


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