Ready. Set. Let Go.

Over the past five years I have let go of things I’ve loved. The first thing was television. I grew up on American TV from 1948, but I could not stand watching Israeli news delivered by men and women who commented on each item with  squints. Moreover, TV watching demanded sitting and, as a writer, I had enough sitting.

I let go of my car, a machine I once imagined was my key to freedom. Whenever I turned on the ignition, I became a monster, fighting for space on the road, swearing at strangers. Walking, riding a bike and taking buses felt  healthier. Moreover, driving demanded sitting and I had enough sitting.

Recently I stopped wearing earrings because it took me too long to find the holes that have been in my ears since 1960. I do not enjoy feeling incompetent, so I gave up earrings. No biggie.

I’ve given up all subscriptions to concerts, lectures and gyms. For classes, I only do those I can enter randomly on a ticket with ten entrances. There are always exceptions: “Songwriting” demanded a commitment of fourteen sessions. I complied and didn’t miss one. Should I ever be accepted into a modern dance troupe or rock band, I will sign up for life.

Last week I unsubscribed to thirty-five lists and newsletters that flooded my inbox daily. These mailings once made me feel popular, connected and needed. Lately, they made me feel lost. Without this clutter of  upcoming events in Vancouver, Berlin and Hebron, my chances of remembering why I approach the computer in the first place are greatly increased.

I have let go of the belief that western-trained doctors know what is best for me. I go along with such doctors only for diagnostic purposes. Then I turn East. Thus, I stopped taking statins and aspirin. The stars on most of my blood tests fall within the healthy parenthesis. The rebellious, wandering stars get treated with needles, ginger and supplements, and then, only half of the recommended dosage.  Naturopaths and acupuncturists have greatly improved my quality of life

Decades ago I let go of whites– sugar, flour and rice. For the fourteen years during which my mother deteriorated from Alzheimer’s, I became, in chronological order macrobiotic, vegetarian, vegan and paleo. Since her death, I have regained balance by eating vegan at least four days a week and adding eggs, fish or cheese when necessary. Once a month I eat four kebabs and one hamburger when my son invites me to a cookout at his house. I will always take at least one bite of a pistachio cake, lemon meringue pie, or anything chocolate of 70% or higher

Coffee. I am on and off, but only before ten a.m.and only black with cardamom, ground in front of my eyes by Honi at 79 Jerusalem Blvd. in Jaffa.

I have let go of travel abroad because I have everything I need right here on the corner of Be’eri and Szold. Airplane travel seems like an assault on my healthy, aging, and only body. (A month of Jewish holidays may be the exceptional trigger, though, to get me to an airport.)

After letting go of so many things, I bought something that dramatically changed my life: a standing desk. This mechanical wonder also enables me to regress to the sitting position with a gentle clasp and clench of both still-functioning hands. My VARIDESK has become my Mercedes.

In a week, I plan to buy a simple keyboard so I can take up piano lessons where I left off in sixth grade. I want to advance to seventh grade, which was too hard at thirteen. Now I am motivated, because I want to create melodies for songs I write. If I can learn to harmonize too and all that complicated theory, which is like a new language, I will become very rich. Certainly, I will buy a sitting/standing base for the keyboard, so that I will be able to move my torso every thirty to forty-five minutes. I am confident that I will succeed because now I understand the value of practice. I learned it through Jeremiah (the prophet) when I celebrated by bat mitzvah at sixty-five. (After that, I pretty much let go of religion.)

Maybe my own letting go began not five or ten years ago, but twenty years ago, when I let go of a non-nourishing relationship. At that time I also gave up living in a house I owned. There’s another belief one can give up: private property.

For those of you not yet over seventy, know that getting old can be the best part of your life. Your fingers might hurt, your back buckle, and knees fail. Certain body parts will need an oil job, but if you nap and get 6-9 hours of sleep a night to renew your naturally fading resources, you can create your outer world to suit your inner needs.  Even in a world that is self-destructing, even in a democratic country turning into an autocratic one that makes you ashamed at least four days a week, well-being and renewal can be yours.

This wisdom is not new. It is only new when you discover it for yourself.

Letting go demands practice. Often I think I am preparing myself for the finish line, though I have no idea when or where that will be. When I get there, though, I know I will be ready. “…rich,” to quote Rebecca Solnit, “in loss.”

 

 

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About Judy Labensohn

I'm a writer and teacher of writing.
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29 Responses to Ready. Set. Let Go.

  1. Judy, Thank you, as always, for your wise counsel. Onward!

    Like

  2. Jane Arsham says:

    This is so beautifully written, Judy. Whatever you do, please hold on to writing as long as you can!!

    PS I’m interested in the VariDesk– want to find out more

    Like

    • Thanks, Jane. I’m not exactly letting go of the writing, just changing genres. The VariDesk is fabulous. I just published a photo in the body of the blog. It’s easy to use, standing or sitting, and I am sure it’s much healthier than sitting all the time. It’s worth every $ or shekel. xox

      Like

  3. George Becker says:

    Amen! Love, George

    George A. Becker 216.533.3622 @GBecker1018 george@gabecker.com linkedin.com/in/georgeabeckerco

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    Like

  4. Dennis Roarty says:

    And, please…
    Do not let go of old friends from a time long ago and and a place far away.
    Which, of course, includes me.

    Like

  5. Donadio, Emmie says:

    Wow, Judy!! This is terrific!! Brava for giving up so much and the confidence & courage to keep at it! I send a huge thank you for this. I find it enormously reassuring—although I haven’t given up anything that comes immediately to mind. But I’ll keep thinking. . . . Please don’t become “The Hunger Artist.” That guy didn’t go from strength to strength — as you have.
    Love, Em

    Sent from my iPhone

    Like

  6. Allan Kohrman says:

    Thank you, Judy.

    Like

  7. margitut says:

    You are one strong woman, Judy!

    Very impressive paring down of the items that you no longer need, enjoy or add to your new lifestyle.

    You inspire me to make a Rosh Hashanah list. I recently celebrated the big 80. I must let go of “stuff”. Things that do not add to my life. People who are not positive. Activities that are not healthy. Resolutions for the new year may lead me to a better less cluttered life. You sound very grounded and healthy. Please continue to be a role model. Kol Hakavod! 😊 Margie

    61/10 Bar Kochba Jerusalem 97892 +972 54 5820541 margitut@gmail.com

    >

    Like

    • Dear Margie, thanks for your very kind comment. Making a list is a great idea. Removing a piece
      of clutter each day is another way to get into the shvung of de-cluttering one’s life. Another good exercise is to cut an 8,000 word story or essay down to 1500 words.

      Like

  8. Joan Leegant says:

    I love this essay, Judy. So inspiring. Wonderful wonderful! xo

    Like

  9. Yosefa Raz says:

    Wow, this is gorgeous and wise! Can you please write more on this. xx

    On Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 10:22 PM WRITE IN ISRAEL wrote:

    > Judy Labensohn posted: “Over the past five years I have let go of things > I’ve loved. The first thing was television. I grew up on American TV from > 1948, but I could not stand watching Israeli news delivered by men and > women who commented on each item with squints. Moreover, TV ” >

    Like

  10. estherhecht says:

    More power to you, Judy. Thanks for this excellent essay.

    Like

  11. Frieda says:

    This is the best you,ve written. I loved it. I,m 87and lose and grow every day.

    Like

  12. Janice Weizman says:

    I enjoyed that, Judy. Remindes me of Elizabeth Bishop’s “One Art. ”

    Hope all is good with you!

    On Fri, Aug 24, 2018 at 10:22 PM WRITE IN ISRAEL wrote:

    > Judy Labensohn posted: “Over the past five years I have let go of things > I’ve loved. The first thing was television. I grew up on American TV from > 1948, but I could not stand watching Israeli news delivered by men and > women who commented on each item with squints. Moreover, TV ” >

    Like

  13. Shoshana London Sappir says:

    Oh, Judy, how I miss you.

    Love,

    Shosh

    Like

  14. Shoshana London Sappir says:

    I especially love your balanced diet.

    From: Shoshana London Sappir [mailto:slondonsappir@012.net.il] Sent: Sunday, 26 August, 2018 2:26 PM To: ‘WRITE IN ISRAEL’ Subject: RE: [New post] Ready. Set. Let Go.

    Oh, Judy, how I miss you.

    Love,

    Shosh

    Like

  15. Mary Lou Hishon. says:

    Just loved this Judy. My body has been failing me in my 50s and has required much change in perspective and a lot of letting go. I just loved your joy 🦋 Mary Lou.

    Like

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