Wende's excellent Question provoked the usual yellow-pad-writing response, which I'll try to relate in as orderly way as I can. Here's how the Question was framed:
what happens to what we let go of, where does it live, do we lose it for good and who is left when all is let go?
So, the fine art of "letting go" is up for discussion
We have a lifetime of letting go of people, ideas, hopes, beliefs, relationships, roles, capabilities, aspirations and certainty.
We are told it is what we must do to go on, to grow, to survive and adapt.
How do we do it?
When to do it?
What to do with whatever is released?
What is left and who are we in the end?
Full Disclosure: I should note that I am by far the most inveterate Holder-Onto of us. I'm the Collector among Conviviants, always have been, and excuse it by *exquisite and highly-informed TASTE*: musical, images, bibliographic, tools...
I have been known to run to excess with my accumulative enthusiasms and acquisitive proclivities.
Beginning with my first thoughts on those first four prompts:
Sometimes we send it out, give it Freedom (imagined as an escaping balloon);
and sometimes it's entropic, detritus sent off to literal or figurative landfill, Not Needed On Voyage, Left Luggage
...but often it finds its place in the Narrative, the personal Story of one's own Identity
in Memory surely, but imperfectly. Understanding the linkage between Memory and Narrative is puzzling.
CAN we, even? Things let go may be submerged and denied, walled off, sublimated, but perhaps never entirely escaped... and may return to bite us
- the material self: a non-functioning oxygen-carbon dioxide exchange system; and the body's component molecules; and the atoms tied up in those molecules, until they can escape into ...the æther? Where do star-stuff atoms go, but into new molecular structures?
- the non-material self: living on while remembered by others; and maybe Somewhere Else.
Primarily the material self:
- Letting go of people, and of relationshipsdoesn't mean that they disappear, though that's the special case of those gone, gone, gone beyond. We may keep them archived in Memory, waiting to be called by the Narrative.
Relationships let go often leave scabs, scars, regrets...
- Letting go of roles and capabilitiesIn many cases, roles let go are Escapes. I'm no longer defined as a Professor or a Librarian, or expected to act as if...
Capabilities let go are for me an uncomfortable and problematic area to consider, because my capabilities are so tightly linked to my Identity.
Primarily the non-material self:
- Letting go of Ideas and BeliefsIdeas superseded or outrun ought to find their way into Narrative as background and foundational material, useful for developing Understanding by sometimes-rueful acknowledgement of past thoughts and errors.
It's instructive to consider what it means to Believe, and to cease Believing: a declaration of Fact? articles of Faith? something to shelter behind, seen as integral to Identity? a matter of sociocultural allegiance?
- Letting go of Aspirations and Hopes and CertaintyHere we're in the might could speculative territory of the Imagination, and the Future as belabored last week: Maya in Hindu cosmology is a reminder of the insubstantial nature of our Aspirations and Hopes. Certainties are articles of Faith.
Narrative keeps floating to the surface (arcing back to Word of the Year discussions, 2022 and 2023), and in a manner of speaking WE are life support systems for our personal Narratives, the stories we tell ourselves and one another, about the world and our place in it. Narrative might or might not be solely a human capability, or an essential component, and resides in the Mind, which I think of as the integrator for the sensory inputs that define and constrain the Umwelt; and Mind may also include the Soul, or another version of personal Identity.
Some people do marvelous things with Narrative (so many novels are autobiographical. or are at least fuelled by authors' personal Narratives). And some are champion Fabulists.
So I find myself considering that one might have obligations and responsibilities toward personal Narrative, if it's to live on when one is gate gate para gate. But it's not necessary to fulfill those responsibilities—it's a choice, and a challenge and an opportunity.
It's easy to become entangled in notions of Legacy—what to leave to whom. Yes, my Identity is pretty strongly expressed in my Collections, and I'd LIKE to have them be used and enjoyed, but their value and significance is ...limited. In any case, I can't hold onto or command them from beyond...
...which got me thinking of Edward Gorey (1925-2000) as an exemplar of ...the Remains of the Day, and of things not Let Go. The Edward Gorey House in Yarmouthport MA is without peer as an example of living Legacy, of what is "left at the end", stuffed with things as Gorey left them.
...and so to wondering about that phrase "Remains of the Day" that Kazuo Ishiguro used as the title for his 1989 Booker Prize novel, and which was then made into an excellent 1993 film with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Freud seems to have been the originator of that notion of Remains, in his concept of Tagesreste, 'debris of the day', bits of dreams that act as "crystallization points for the unconscious desires". As Stevens the Butler observes:Perhaps, then, there is something to his advice that I should cease looking back so much, that I should adopt a more positive outlook and try to make the best of what remains of my day.
*****In the interest of completeness, I've scanned the last 5 yellow pad pages (written after the above, but before Wednesday night's Convivium) into a pdf. This format displays the leaps and digressions in more or less sequential order, perhaps not in a form easily read by anybody but myself. But there it is, that's what I do and what I enjoy doing to corral whatever is passing through the Mind. Thus is the Narrative fed.