To let go is transformational

It was there. The bicycle leaning against the lightpost was the first thing I noticed when I turned into the narrow and winding street Loureiro’s shop was located on, in the charming village at the foot of the mountain that is home to the monastery. The pre-dusk sun was reflected on the cobbled stone streets and gave ancient buildings some pastel colors. Since the shop operated at random hours, to find Loureiro, the shoemaker who loved philosophy books and red wines was always a game of chance. I was greeted with his usual joy and elegance. He made a fresh pot of coffee pot and, as soon as we sat before our steaming cups, we were surprised with the arrival of the shoemaker’s niece. A pretty and polite young woman with a countenance of colorful uncertainties who had come to spend some days resting in the countryside. After the usual greetings, the young lady was very straightforward. She had always heard her uncle talk about the importance of letting go. However, she was a patient of a well-known therapist in the capital, and in her last consultation she was advised not to give up on her dreams, as that would mean abandonment, a sign of weakness.

Loureiro listened in silence, and patiently. When she finished, seeing her niece’s troubled face, he said composedly and in a soft tone: “I am a keen reader and an attentive observer. However, I do not have academic training. I say only what I feel, how I look at all things. The risk of my being wrong is tremendous.” I meddled in and joked that all alchemists are self-taught. The magic of the craftsman in turning lead into gold was undeniable, at least in regards to transmuting into light the shadows that dwell within ourselves. The young woman insisted for him to speak, she loved to hear his opinions, that she considered disconcerting. The shoemaker asked her to help herself of coffee and sat. Then, he said: “The word is capable of displaying and wrapping an idea. It gives shape to the thought, hence its tremendous power. Ancient people said that we are wizards of the words, as we can sow courage or disseminate fear with them. I tell you this because I need to match my thoughts with the best words, considering the context.”

“Letting go does not mean giving up, absolutely. Letting go means transformation, an indispensable tool for evolution.” The niece interrupted him and said she did not understand. The craftsman smiled tenderly and explained: “We are affected by cultural, social and ancestral conditionings that strongly influence the development of ideas and the interpreting of emotions, hence they influence our choices. Many a time, this arrangement makes us define goals and wishes that connect success and happiness to purely material purposes and pleasures of the senses. Oftentimes they are connected to money, fame, power and sex. The ego wants applause and glitter, the apparent achievements, without realizing the void they will cause in the long run. At some point, a more attentive person realizes that the ideas that shaped their trajectory may be obsolete, as they did not turn into the expected happiness, and understands there should be a change in course. Following the song in the pitch of an old tuning fork makes the lyrics lose lightness and plenitude as the opera progresses. That symphony no longer touches your heart. A huge void is left, where sound does not propagate.” He paused briefly, observed the attentive eyes of his niece and completed: “He then realizes that he needs to reinvent ideas that made him walk a long stretch but reached nowhere. He begins to understand that success is not measured by the rule of finances, but by the compass of plenitude. It is not a matter of having everything, but of being whole. To let go is reflected in the transformation of old shapes. It is pure alchemy.” The niece interrupted him, and asked him to be more clear. Loureiro obliged: “What we call ‘old forms’ is a set of ideas, prejudices and conditionings that bind us to standards which, at some point, show to be obsolete for being ineffective or useless. It is time for metamorphosis.”

“Transmutation is vital for us to leave behind the way we used to think and live; this way is no good anymore because it lacks the vitality that propels evolution. It is as if all wishes are blurred in achieving true happiness, as they do not present the colors of the unmistakable sense of peacefulness. It is time to enter the cocoon to understand yourself, and then set your dreams free; it is time for the caterpillar to stop crawling, and allow itself to use the wings of the butterfly.”

“It is indispensable, now, that I properly differentiate desire from dream. Desire is connected to the ego, to vanity, to social prestige, to merely material achievements, to passions. To shine.”

“The dream is the purpose of the soul, of the core of the being; it reflects the skills and talents to be used for the immaterial achievements of love and dignity, this means spiritual evolution. It is connected to the light.”

“While desire inflates pride, dream gives sense to humility; desires take you to honor decorations and headlines of magazines, dreams quietly make heaven rejoice; desires yearn the fame of the limelight, dreams long for dawn to appear. To understand the meaning and the difference between desire and dream is to realize oneself immortal, and become a wanderer in the endless journey. To know that we are here to learn, transmute, share and, then, move on.”

“Letting go is not giving up, and it is not cowardice. On the contrary, it is a profoundly courageous decision give up what many people around you deem a sign of success. What most people believe is glorious has no value to you. To think that letting go is cowardice is like deceiving yourself by believing that to be quiet and peaceful by choosing non-violence as an instrument for fighting is typical of cowards. It is not understanding the essence of life, the revolutionary force of peace. It is necessary immeasurable will and courage to give up social and cultural constraints in order to construct a new being, committed with irreplaceable achievements, those that do not rust, weigh or deteriorate. It is like picking the fruit because of the multiplying power of the seed, not the fugacious shine of the skin.”

“Many a time I see successful, well-known professionals, who face no financial hardships and can enjoy all the comfort and technology of our time. However, they find themselves immersed in depression, panic, fear, utterly lost. They have reached the top of the scale designed by old concepts. They have money, are very good in what they do, are praised for their accomplishments; however, all sorts of ‘happy pills’, like anxiolytics and antidepressants, endless therapies, all sorts of fanatic ideas, unspeakable desires of suicide haunt these people like ghosts in a haunted mansion. They did not understand that appearance should be traded for essence; they live according to what they expect from the world, rather than allowing silence to whisper the truth and point out the Path. They lacked the courage to detach from their desires and live their dreams. They are in the vital void; they crave light.”

He paused, looked seriously at his niece and said: “To detach from passions so that love can blossom is not for the weak. Love is for the strong. It is impossible to love without letting go. It is impossible to be free without letting go. Only then we will be light enough for our wings to appear. Without them one does not reach the High Lands where the pillars of peace are secured.”

“Only those who understand the dimension of letting go are able to understand the gap between love and passion”, Loureiro explained. The young woman wanted to know how to differentiate one from the other. The good craftsman arched his lips in a mild smile of joy and said: “Imagine a person crossing the desert under a scorching sun, very thirsty. He finds a large canteen filled with fresh water, and drinks it up to the last drop. This feeling is sheer passion.” He became silent for a moment, closed his eyes and spoke in a slow, heartfelt way: “Love is when we face the same desert, under the same scorching sun and the same amount of thirst. We find the same canteen with water, and drink half of it. We leave the other half for those who will come after.”

A tear rolled down her face, which was enlightened by a beautiful smile immediately after. She hugged the elegant cobbler showing sincere appreciation. Without a word, she left. She was not the same person who had entered the shop a little while ago.


Kindly translation by Carlos André Oighenstein.

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