Almost 14th of February again, Valentine’s day. This day makes me think of the most beautiful lesson in love I ever got from my grandma when I was only 6.
To love is to let go
We were walking on the beach in Ostend, and she said to me: “now Ann, you have to watch very carefully…” and she took a handful of sand grains in her hands. She said: “look what happens: when I keep my hands open, the majority of the sand stays where it is. But when I close my hands to keep hold of it all, then a great part slips away through my fingers”.
And she went on: “what I want you to remember later is that this is also absolutely true with people.” That sounded difficult to me. “How can grains of sand compare to people?” I asked. She answered: “I know it is not easy to understand, but trust me, it is exactly the same. When you let the persons you love completely free, chances are very high they want to stay with you. But if you try to keep hold of them too much, they will feel trapped, and will try to escape from you”.
That was even more difficult to understand for a 6-year old.
She must have seen I was totally puzzled. She waited a while and patiently summarised our conversation as follows: “my little darling, when you will be grown up, and you walk on the beach some day, do this: think of me and of this day, and take up some sand again. First, let it stay in your open hands, then hold on tight … , and you will surely understand.”
I promised I would do so.
It took maybe 20 years before the “Aha Erlebnis” finally struck me. It was on a warm evening, somewhere on a deserted beach in Andalucia, when I was walking along the shoreline. Suddenly I thought of her and I understood…. And since then, I have tried to apply the beauty of the metaphor as much as possible.
The girl with the red balloon
Last year, when I saw Banksy’s street art drawing of the girl with the red balloon, in Beurs van Berlage, Amsterdam, I was overwhelmed by how gracefully she lets go of the balloon. It made me smile… and think of grandma Margareta again. The Banksy girl is an easier version of the same metaphor. It is the modern version of my grandma’s lesson.
Dare to let go and accept what happens.
What is meant to be, will be.
What is meant to come your way, will come your way.
What is not meant to cross your path, will not cross.
Don’t hold on tight of anything.
Just let it be.
It is as simple as that.