Matthias Maier | Learning to let go

Learning to let go

I have spent a lot of time in my life trying to find answers to the questions that bother me. At some point, I could no longer deal with the prefabricated solutions of the major religions. They offer thought models in which you can only believe. I wanted realistic answers to my questions instead.

I have spent a lot of time in my life trying to find answers to the questions that bother me. At some point, I could no longer deal with the prefabricated solutions of the major religions. They offer thought models in which you can only believe and they didn’t stand up to my realistic questioning.

So for myself, I found inner peace in the acceptance of things as they are and the restriction to the period between birth and death. There will be a reason, why outside this period we can only speculate what can be and it is unnecessary to waste the already scarce life time with it. I decided instead to concentrate on a happy life from which I can leave at the end with a clear conscience. With the comforting certainty of having spent my time happy and wisely and having discovered and used my own personal talent.

Everything we find, we will lose

But I don’t want to write about my basic philosophy of life here, just about a part of it that has to be accepted, because it corresponds to a fact that can’t be denied. Everything we find, we will lose. We spend so much time collecting, we focus a large part of our existence on it. Accumulating people, money, things. They give us security, distractions, fun. We develop emotions, affections, dependencies, habits around these things or for people. We love them, use them, let them become part of us. And yet, sooner or later, we will lose everything and everyone that we let into our lives and into our hearts. At the end of our life we cannot take any of this with us and during our life we are continuously confronted with losses that are more or less close to us. We have to accept this without being able to change anything.

I always want to be aware of this fact, because it gives the present a completely different value. Enjoy the moment as it is and rejoice in it. Another derivation from this awareness is a way of life with as few possessions as possible. This results in as little loss as possible and therefore more freedom and less vulnerability. Unfortunately, I am a collecting person who constantly falls in love with anything that crosses my path. In the growing plants on my balcony, shells on the beach or stones in the mountains. In the rain pattering on the roof or the wooden beads necklace I bought for 5 Swiss francs at the flea market.

The story of the wooden bead necklace

It is because of this rather unspectacular wooden necklace that I am writing this post. I don’t remember when I bought it, it must have been more than 10 years ago. I got it and then didn’t wear it for a long time. Somehow it bothered me that this chain had been worn by another person of whom I knew nothing and I was afraid it would give me negative energies. I also found it too conspicuous when I wore it and everyone always looked at me like that. So our relationship started a bit bumpy and only after a few years I felt comfortable to wear this wooden beads necklace – mostly during the vacations I spent in New York and on Fire Island, where you don’t stand out for doing so. But even after that, there were always months where I would put the necklace down and forget about it, until I found it again in one of my baskets in the bathroom and wore it again.

In the last year I wore it very often and I loved to wear it. I no longer care what others think of me and I enjoyed being stared at with it. A few weeks ago, I wore it to a visit to the Kunstmuseum in Basel and was approached by an older attendant there about the necklace. “You’re wearing a beautiful necklace,” she said, “is it scented?” I told her that I had the necklace from a flea market and had had it for a very long time and that it had never been scented. She told me that this necklace was special, probably came from Afghanistan and used to be worn by hippies. From then on, I was in love with my necklace and put it on every morning, just like I put on my ring when I get up. I am currently spending the summer in Cherry Grove on Fire Island and spend the days in swim trunks working in our little beach house or naked on the beach. The only thing I wear around the top is my wooden bead necklace. Was my wooden bead necklace.

Matthias Maier | Learning to let go
The wooden bead necklace became part of my life in the recent years

Last Sunday there were perfect waves to plunge into and feel the energy of the ocean. It felt so good to surrender to the waves, to dive into them, to let the warm salty water and its power affecting me. I had my fun. And suddenly realized that the chain was gone. I looked around to see if it was floating somewhere in the water but it had disappeared, swallowed by the Atlantic. I suddenly felt totally sad and empty, my beloved necklace was gone. There is no replacement for it. I could buy a similar one, but it will never be that necklace again.

Gone with the waves as a reminder

I remembered again the phrase, that we don’t really own anything and will lose everything we find. I told it to myself for comfort, as I walked the beach before sunrise the following days, hoping it would have been washed ashore among the kelp and shells. Unfortunately, I did not find it again. So I decided to let it go. Maybe it wanted to get away from me. Maybe I’m not enough of a hippy for it, or maybe it’s still mad at me for spurning it for so long. Perhaps it just wanted to explore the ocean, the water, the fish, the plankton I’ve been dealing with for the past few weeks while carrying it on my neck.

It’s OK. It never belonged to me, just like I don’t own anything that surrounds me. I want to be grateful for the time we shared together and for the lesson it teaches me now. I know there are much more precious, important things I still have to let go in my life, than a wooden bead necklace. Maybe someone else will find it someday, here or on some other beach, and fall in love with it like I did. And who knows what will cross my path that I can put around my neck anew. It is a coming and going, a taking and giving, an up and down like the waves in the sea and high and low tide.