the strange art of letting go

runawaybunnyIn Runaway Bunny, the classic and iconic children’s book published in 1942 by Margaret Wise Brown, a mother bunny changes shape and form in order to “rescue” her runaway bunny. The child’s desire for independence is met with the overpowering magic of his mother, who in every instance of the child’s journey away from home, quickly finds him and reclaims him.

“If you become a fish in a trout stream,” said his mother, “I will become a fisherman and I will fish for you.” …

“If you become a crocus in a hidden garden,”
said his mother, “I will be a gardener. And I will find you.”…

“If you become a sailboat and sail away from me,”
said his mother, “I will become the wind
and blow you where I want you to go.”

Is this the magic of determined love? Does it deny the beloved their ability to choose? Does it give the object of its love no other choice but to be held in their arms, held captive by the strength of the lover’s will?

In some cases a love story doesn’t always look like the magic of Margaret Brown’s Runaway Bunny. Sometimes the means by which you express genuine love for someone else may be the act of letting them go, as painful and hard as that is.

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Jane Austen said that she wanted to be the sort of author who let her main characters get what they wanted. Her own life was a different story.

She had tasted the bitterness of having to let a lover go and perhaps wanted somehow to vindicate her pain through writing stories where people got what they wanted; stories with happy endings, triumphant satisfaction.

I am opening my eyes a little bit to see the truth of love that is, however,  held in those experiences of having to let go, when the true nature of love cannot allow you to hold on with all your might.

I haven’t seen the movie LaLa Land, I probably won’t, but someone told me they were somewhat disturbed by the ending, because the lover’s don’t end up together. They go their separate ways in order to each fulfill with their lives what they would’t be able to accomplish if they chose partnership with each other.

In situations of unrequited love, the love could never be returned and so you form as a person, you heal, you move on. But in other cases, such as in the movie LaLa Land, or the movie Once, the story doesn’t end with partnership and consummation, but rather a bittersweet, yet willing goodbye.

Most people struggle with this sort of ending. This couldn’t be a successful love story! Our hearts reel with pain at such an ending. And yet the nature of love I do not believe is one of force or control, but rather it calls forth such true risk, such vulnerability. It doesn’t simply allure and claim but seems to require the element of will and choice.  And perhaps not just any choosing, but a free choice that is not motivated from self-interest.

Maybe will write next time on how an eternal perspective casts about a clear and hopeful ray of light over all the scars and blisters we gain from love in this life.

 

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