On Letting go
My dog Balou is very intelligent. Once I made a list of how many words he understands and I got at least to 90. But it is not only words – actually in 3 languages which are spoken in our family, English, German, French – but whole phrases, some with gestures and some without. Words like cookie can be spoken without Balou being actually in the same room. Can he overhear us using this word he will turn up in a second and “asks” with his eyes where the cookies are. Another word is “nap”, in French “dodo”, and Balou is off to the room in which a take my little afternoon sleep.
Balou’s intelligence impressed me particularly when he came up with a solution of one of the most profound problems and conflicts for all of us. How to let go. Who wants to let go of something you like or love or have or feel you want and need? Giving up requires the willingness to meet the feeling of loss and sadness.
Balou loves ball games. He loves little balls the size of tennis balls which he can hold in his mouth. Balou loves being chased with the ball in his mouth and but he loves even more dropping the ball near him and inviting you to snap it away. Something which is very hard to do if not impossible because he is incredibly quick and trembles with excitement when waiting for your abysmal failing.
Balou loves going even further with this game. He challenges you to take it out of his mouth and when you are trying to do that – while he is growling like a hellhound – he pulls he into total imbalance and you let go to avoid being thrown to the ground. Even if you manage to lift him up in the air, he will not give in and declare defeat. No way.
I do not know or remember how and when the new game with the new rules was established. All of a sudden it was there and I am still deeply impressed by the degree of intelligence which was responsible for its creation.
Balou’s game had become a game with two balls. Pure genius had struck and from this moment on one ball was and stayed in Balou’s mouth while the second one could be kicked around and chased after and even given up and declared a loss. When Balou was in the mood, he even let go of the ball in his mouth, because with lightning speed the loss of this ball was compensated by the capture of the other one. Balou had sussed out a very simple and totally effective system: The threat of loss was eliminated and giving up could be generously practised without serious consequences. It had become a play.
It needs a clever mind to come up with a solution like that. Letting go without loss, we all are dreaming of that.