Last week, I delivered my last presentation of the calendar year. In preparation, it felt like the wrong topic at the wrong time. Nor was it my typical audience of striving professionals either. They had already been there and done that.
They had run the good race and fought the good fight.
I had been with them about 15 months before. I had a little presentation on a topic that had felt right … Love is all you need. That topic seemed to resonate with this thriving interfaith community at Monarch Landing, a wonderful retirement community on the north side of my hometown of Naperville, IL. In fact, in the year to follow, they set a theme for all their speakers … Love-in-Action.
And so, this past Tuesday night, I was the caboose of a year-long run of speakers who had volunteered to visit this wonderful group throughout 2016. That’s a lot of “love” to hear about. And it seemed, just hours before Christmas, that a syrupy encore to my “Love is all You Need” presentation was in order. And those who know me well, know I love any opportunity for syrupy.
Yet, something inside kept drawing me to a completely different idea … only one idea … a presentation on letting go. It gets worse … The love of letting go!
Since this idea wouldn’t let go of me, I decided to go with it.
I knew walking in that this audience had already let go of so many things. And right from the beginning, I confessed with the packed-house in front of me, my complete reservation about my chosen topic. I acknowledged their expertise and told them that I could spend an entire afternoon sitting with each one of them learning far more about letting go of things than I could ever share with them.
I then recounted my experience, as a five-year-old, of accidentally letting go my white helium balloon … and how it had created a well-grounded disdain for letting go of anything. Maybe to prove my point, I brought a massive white helium balloon with me to the presentation. The balloon perched on a long white ribbon. The ribbon allowed the balloon to reach to the very top of the huge Christmas tree to my right, yet grounded its freedom and the innate potential it had to fly.
And then I continued. Not everything we need to let go of are the things on the outside. In fact, the most challenging and most important things are on the inside. I decided to slowly and reflectively share a few examples for clarification.
For some it might be an unfulfilled dream … as in life hadn’t turned-out precisely as we had so strategically planned. Similarly, it could be a regret or a disappoint in ourselves or someone else. For others, it could be a long held grudge. Yet, for others, it could be a belief in which we have sunk our teeth so deeply that we repel others in the way we claim it. Then there are those expectations that we create … an expectation for something or from someone. For others, there is a tight embrace of traditions deeply seeded. For some, it’s an untold secret. And for many it is fear itself. For most, it’s possibly a systemic connection of a few of these.
I then decided to claim it … that, in fact, the love of letting go is a perfect theme for the Christmas Season. For all of us, there is always another package to unwrap, inside of us, precisely so we can let it go. And in doing so, we become more loving, more loveable and more like the story that Christmas brings.
I then returned to the white helium balloon. I offered up the possibility that “holding-on” creates a deceptively fulfilling experience, and in doing so, keeps us from the opportunity of experiencing the wonder of true flight. I then meant to suggest, as we enter the New Year, that whenever we encounter a helium balloon, we could let it gently nudge us with encouragement to open yet one more package inside of us and let it go. But caught-up in the closing moment of my presentation, I totally forgot to mention it. I was so bummed about that.