I am a firm believer in love at first meeting. Because the eyes are the window to the soul. It’s cliche for a reason.
I am a firm believer in soul mates — Not romantic ones, but simply people who understand your soul on a level beyond which you could ever explain.
But I am also a firm believer in the idea that if someone is meant to be in your life, they will come back to you, if you have the strength to let them go. You have to give them the chance to leave. And this has created many a contradiction in my heart.
If someone is a soul mate, and I know it the first time I meet them, how do I find it in my heart to let them go?
I have to remind myself that the long term regret will be so much worse than the small moments of fear or sadness.
For a long time, I had a very hard time with letting go. I thought that people who really cared about others, and who had the best relationships with those around them, were the ones who held on tight to the people they cared about. While it’s important to stick around and be there for the people you love, I was oh so wrong about holding on tightly.
“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us” -Paulo Coehlo, The Zahir, 126
Because people don’t change. And if they find the urge to take off and go, nothing you can do will stop them. You may be able to change their mind momentarily, but you will never change their heart or fulfill their dreams. You can’t single handedly be someone’s everything. Even if they love you, they will never love you enough to not resent you down the road for pulling them away from their dreams.
“Nor can I live constantly in the state of peace that I find with you. It’s destroying the one important thing I have: my relationship with you, even if the intensity of my love remains undiminished” -Paulo Coehlo, The Zahir, 134
Instead, we have to work to inspire and challenge the ones that we love, even if it means missing them. Even if it means we have to let go of ourselves and our feelings. Sometimes you have to let go of your feelings and really think. You have to be rational enough to understand that love isn’t always enough to make it work. That’s a misconception in this world, that love is easy when it’s real – love , no matter how true, requires risk and rationality.
But there’s risk even in rationality. People often think that the most risk comes with loving someone, with putting your heart on the line. However, I think that the most risk often comes from being reasonable enough to step away from someone for some time.
It’s a type of stepping outside of your comfort zone, letting go of someone you love, whether forever or just for a little while. It’s a risk. It leaves you very vulnerable, because there is a chance that when you give them the chance to leave, they won’t come back.
But if they don’t, what do you really lose that wasn’t already lost? If you’re not someone that they choose to come back to, that they choose to share their dreams with, then they were never yours to begin with.
More importantly than anything, if you lose someone to someone or something else, it means that they found a happiness there that they didn’t have before. And there’s a selflessness in this kind of recognition.
Even if they never come back to thank you, or realize the part that you played in their happiness, you can look at them and be happy knowing you made a difference in the life of a person that you love. Those people that you lose because you challenged them to find themselves? You haven’t really lost them at all—even if they disappear from your life— because you get to watch them become the best version of themselves.
“And suddenly, the miracle happens. I look across at the woman who has just made me some coffee and is now reading the newspaper, whose eyes look tired and desperate, who is her usual silent self, who does not always show her affection in gestures, the woman who made me say yes when I wanted to say no, who forced me to fight for what she, quite rightly believed was my reason for living, who let me set off alone because her love for me was greater even than her love for herself, who made me go in search of my dream–suddenly my fingers press down on the keys” -Coehlo, 24
So how do you do it? How do you selflessly let go?
You channel your feelings into bettering yourself. You channel what feels like loss. Into exercise. Into intelligence. Into art. Into life.
By making a choice to let go, you turn the loss into life.
You create good for both you and the other person through the exploration of separation and of the unknown. You create good in recognizing that there is freedom in letting go. You never know what you can do if you don’t try. And if you don’t try, you might live to regret it.
Letting go is a choice. Choose it, when you feel the need. Don’t be scared to let go. The truly good things will make their way back to you. And in the meantime, so much good can be found in the loss.
“Freedom is not the absence of commitments but the ability to choose – and to commit myself to – what is best for me.” – Paulo Coehlo, The Zahir, 16
And one day, a person or two that you let go of might come strolling back into your life, as quickly as they left. They will settle in your soul like a cup of tea on a cold day. They will land softly like a leaf from a fallen tree. They will perch in your soul like hope.
And that’s when you know it is meant to be. That’s when you know that you have found true love and true friendship. That’s when you know that those people are your people. Because they have chosen you. Over and over again. They aren’t settling because they’ve seen the world and they know your worth in their lives. You gave them the chance to leave but they came back. They are living their dreams and they still want you to be a part of it. Instead of holding on tightly, you become a stepping stone on their ladders to fulfillment.
“All I know is that even though I can live without her, I would still like to see her again.” -Paulo Coehlo, The Zahir, 71
That is love. Love is selfless. Love is risk. Love is letting go.