Letting go, another round

What do I need to let go of at this point in my life?

Can I let go of the things that make me feel useful and significant?

The second question is one I probably copied eight years ago, when the elementary school where I had invested a great deal of myself was closing.  That job teaching second and third graders; the incredible young people, families, neighborhood and colleagues with whom I shared community did make me feel useful and significant despite the institutional and political view of us as less than capable.

Now, with much greater educational accomplishments, I’m wondering the same thing.

One thing I know.  I could let go of the thing that makes be feel insignificant and inadequate; comparing myself to others, like I did yesterday, reliving what I intended to do and what I haven’t accomplished. However, that wasn’t the question.

Henri Nouwen and Parker Palmer are two people I perceive as having struggled with these questions and maybe answered them with a life.  In the forward to Palmer’s first book, The Promise of Paradox, Henri Nouwen wrote:

Parker has shown me how true it is that you don’t think your way into a new kind of living but live your way into a new kind of thinking.

I haven’t read this Parker Palmer book, but I have read many of his others and know much of his story of struggle.  I have read Nouwen’s The Road to Daybreak that chronicled his journey from the world of academie to his life in the Daybreak community for children and adults with physical and mental challenges.  These men lived the paradox of letting go of what seems to be of value in the world to find a new self.

I know how they answered the question with courage and uncertainty.  The thing is– I know the end of their story.

Can I let go of the things that make me feel useful and significant?

 The answer involves living with a new kind of attention.

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