If you do not know this song by Michael McDonald, I strongly recommend you go to itunes right now and download it. It is haunting melody with poignant words. I first heard it back in the early 1990s as the closing to the final episode of the series “China Beach.” The words struck me then, and they have never let go.
Recently, after my extended visit to Florida this summer, I came home and felt different. I was in a new place. This was “No Man’s Land.” I had let go of my past (all things Florida), mostly, but I had not yet embraced all things new (Indiana). I was faced with the options of jumping feet first into a new life here and getting involved and making new friends.
But I am scared.
I went to my therapist and told her, “I want to make new friends, but I’m terrified.” She said, “Well, of course you are afraid. As long as you hold on to your memories from Florida, you are safe and you won’t be hurt by opening yourself up to new memories. If you never make new friends, you won’t ever have to go through all the pain of saying goodbye again. It’s a way of holding onto the past and not moving into the future, or, even, living in the present.”
I looked at her and thought, “Uh-oh. She’s onto me.”
I mulled her words over for a couple days. Tonight, I sat down at my computer and this song, which I soon realized had been subtly running through my mind for most of the afternoon, popped to the forefront of my consciousness.
It was so right, it was so wrong
Almost at the same time
The pain and ache a heart can take
No one really knows
When the memories cling and keep you there
Till you no longer care
And you can let go now
It’s wrong for me to cling to you
Somehow I just needed time
From what was to be-it’s not like me
To hold somebody down
But I was tossed high by love
I almost never came down
Only to land here
Where love’s no longer found
Where I’m no longer bound
And I can let go now
I think, at last, I can start letting go. And while it’s terrifying, and a horrifyingly lonely prospect, I know it will not last forever.
Letting go is so hard to do, even when the very thing you are holding onto hurts like the dickens.
(I Can Let Go Now from the album “If That’s What It Takes” by Michael McDonald)