whenever i was feeling down, i used to open my hotmail account and read a saved letter from a friend of mine named harold lee. he wrote it to me after i suffered the biggest disappointment of my life to date: my rejection from brown university. a student there himself, he told me that he was very sorry, but it didn’t really matter, beacuse i was going to be very successful no matter where i went and what i did. he told me that a college is just college; the people you meet, the things you do, and the places you go are much more important than the institution. it was as if those words soothed the enduring pain of “we regret to inform you…”
one day, not too long ago, i opened the account. to my horror, everything had been deleted, as it was over 60 days since my last login. i nearly cried; the four paragraphs harold wrote to me were the binding fibers of my acceptance of going to uri…i felt as though they wre ripped at the seams.
what about my email being deleted got me so upset? after a long walk, i figured it out. i was being forced to choose between being consumed by regret and pain, or to let go. and then i got to thinking: when it is time to let go?
as i observed my surroundings for the next few days, i realized we were all holding onto things that needed to be buried, forgotten, or just laid to rest for a while. one friend had a horrible time with his ex-girlfriend, but she was constantly calling and leaving cryptic messages that could only have been directed towards him. of course, after the messy split, they had both gone to the arms of (quite a few) other people, but why couldn’t he ignore her calls? and why did she keep trying?
another one of my peers received a not so stellar grade on an exam. it was the first of four, however, and with a little studying, it could be brought up in no time. however, he continued to labor over it; saying he’d never get an a and he didn’t see the use in studying because he was obviously so stupid. but why didn’t he just try harder the next time? use this one as a stepping stone, and work his way up to the a he so desperately wanted, instead of giving up and dwelling on his “stupidity?”
finally, the case that baffled me: a friend of mine obsessed about one night with a particular gentleman so much, that it drove me up a wall. after analyzing why he didn’t call back for the fiftieth time that next day, even though her hair was perfect and he was a perfect date, she decided that she was better off and that it would do her good to forget about him. and in an instant, he was gone.
why was that so easy for her? it takes me longer to forget about someone cutting me off on the highway than it did for her to forget this guy! why can’t i simply get over things, and other people can with a change in the wind? why do they continue to bother me, and a large portion of other people, until we’re crazy?
maybe it’s that we can’t let go of the things that cause us great hurt or pain. it is so great sometimes, that we stay bitter for a long time. or maybe we can’t let go to the things that we would like to happen. it’s being overly optimistic, and it never works, but maybe that foolish hope is what keeps us going.
the more i thought about harold’s words and my friends and their dwellings on various topics from cars to clothes to college, i realized that maybe it’s not about letting go or even holding on to something. maybe it’s about accepting the things we can’t change, and seeing the sliver lining in the cloud. and knowing that we can’t change even our own worlds to be exactly as we want them to be. maybe it’s about being ok with the things that unfold, because in the end, we’ll have learned what we need to.
i don’t need that letter anymore because i know what harold said three years ago was just what i needed to hear. i just had to learn that for myself, even if it was a long time coming. and i may never get over that rejection, but as i grow older, accomplish more, and find something to smile at every day, at least i’ll know that harold was right.