Let what be?
Paul McCartney wrote the lyrics to the song ‘Let it Be’ following a dream he had during a difficult time in his life. In the dream his mother, Mary, who’d been dead about ten years, appeared to him and told him not to worry . . . everything would be alright . . . let it be.
The Mother Mary in the song refers to his mother, not the Virgin Mary.
Like many songs, the words are simple but unforgettable. They wander through our minds at unexpected times, carrying a message we could often do with.
But, as many people have asked since the song’s release fifty years ago:
Let what be?
What to do, what to leave undone, what to follow doggedly to the end, what to leave alone? These questions pop up daily and our answers determine what life brings.
The song explains itself. When you’re in a time of trouble, in an hour of darkness, when you’re broken hearted, when you’re parted, these are the times you Let it be.
I remember the first time I let it be. I was 22, travelling home to Australia after being overseas for four years. I flew from New York to Luxembourg, then trained through Europe to Athens, where I was to catch a cheap, non-refundable flight to Perth. A misreading of a train timetable meant I arrived in Athens several hours too late for my flight. I was stranded, alone and penniless in a foreign country with a now useless ticket home in my pocket.
I stood stunned on the train platform with my battered suitcase, watching a plane that was probably mine soaring southwards with one window seat empty.
Shock, confusion, a touch of fear. What should I do? Sell the watch and tiny diamond ring I’d inherited from my grandmother? No, their combined value wouldn’t buy a plane ticket. My mind raced, searching for a solution to my dilemma.
I walked to the train station entrance and stood just inside the door, nervously surveying the busy room packed full of travellers with purpose, people who knew where they were going and how they would get there. What should I do next? Who could help?
Then, suddenly, it happened. I let it be.
I didn’t move. I thought nothing. The bustling sounds of the crowd faded. The air became still. And I became stiller.
There will be an answer, let it be.
I don’t know how long this state of acceptance and allowing lasted, except it was long enough for an answer to arrive in the shape of a young man who approached me and politely asked if I needed some help. He loaned money, tried to kiss me, and found me a cheap B&B for the week I had to stay in Athens, while he negotiated with the airlines to give me another ticket home for free.
Of course, my example was only lightly touched by trouble and darkness, but it’s a time I remember, a time when I didn’t know what to do, so I chose, momentarily, to do nothing — to let it be.
Sometimes all you can do in times of trouble and darkness, sadness and separation, is be quiet and wait.
Living with mindfulness
What does letting something be do?
It gives you space.
It stops you doing something rash which could make the situation worse.
It allows time to unfold to bring new developments, which may give you more information to work with.
Letting be empties your mind of preconceived notions, habitual thoughts and ingrained emotional reactions.
It allows words of wisdom to enter the space you have created. These words reveal a way out of — or through — the darkness.
With love, Marlane
First published on Medium.com/Illumination