“Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go”
― Hermann Hesse
“You people always hold onto old identities, old faces and masks, long after they’ve served their purpose. But you’ve got to learn to throw things away eventually.”
When I was 19 and had a mishap with the law my father came down on me like a ton of bricks. He told me that he didn’t know what it was but it almost felt like I had something missing in me and he did not feel I was a good person. Insecure at the best of times and somewhat floundering at that point in my life it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was devastated.
For years after that, I found myself either trying to live up to whatever image I had of what my father thought a good person should be or playing against that image in rebellion. With each victory or setback I experienced I asked myself, “So am I a good person now?” I did not have the courage to ask my father.
At some point when I had come close to hitting bottom, it finally occurred to me that I had to let it go. For one thing it had way too many layers
1) what a good person is qualitatively
2) what my father saw as being a good person
3) what I perceived my father saw as being a good person
4)who I was in relationship to 1, 2 or 3
The absurdity of it had me laughing and crying at the same time. I realized that the most important thing was to be myself in the world for good or bad, doing what best reflected the person I am. If I tried to live up to a yardstick especially someone else’s it would not be as meaningful as living up to myself. From that point on, I decided that I would no longer be as concerned with being good as doing right and expressing my being. But I could only do that when I was able to let go of that conversation with my dad and take responsibility for my own actions.
At some point after that, my father had cause to tell me what a good person he thought I was. It felt a touch anti-climatic.
Click on images to see full-sized