Why Letting Go of the Old Will Bring Immediate Rewards
This morning, there were two quick knocks on the door of my cottage followed by the familiar creaking of it opening. Moments later, Witchy twirled her way into the kitchen, as usual. It warms my heart and makes me smile every time she shows up.
“Good morning, Witchy! You’re up early!”
“I know. I couldn’t sleep!” Rolling her eyes, she shrugged in resignation.
“Why is that? You look pretty happy today, but is there something on your mind?”
“No. I mean yes. I mean yes, I am happy! And no, there is nothing on my mind. Well, yes. There is. Sort of. But not really.”
My head was spinning. I drew in a patient, deep breath. “Could you explain?”
“I was being thinky.”
“I see. Thinky again. Something in particular?”
I continued. “Are you going to make me pull teeth?”
Witchy gasped in horror, recoiling and covering her mouth. “What?? You want to pull out my teeth?” Her blue face paled instantly.
“No! No, Witchy, it’s an expression…a figure of speech. It just means you’re not saying much and making me work to pull the answers out of you.”
“Then why didn’t you just say that? English is so dumb!” Frowning, she shook her head and sank into a chair, relieved to be keeping her teeth.
“Sorry, Witchy. Sometimes I forget that you haven’t lived here very long and you’re still learning the language. How about some tea?”
I plucked the kettle off the cooker and made a move toward the tap.
“I could do with some willow bark tea.”
“Yes. From your tree outside. Unless you have some already.”
“Why willow bark?”
“For this headache.”
“Oh, dear, you have a headache?”
“I’m sorry to hear it. When did it start?”
“About the time you mentioned pulling out my teeth.” She shot me a piercing look.
I felt bad enough already. “I suppose it doesn’t help that I said that when you haven’t had much sleep.”
“No. It doesn’t.”
“Or that it was in the morning.”
She pursed her lips and said nothing.
“So…Witchy…would you care to tell me why you were being thinky?” I filled the kettle and popped it back on the cooker, turning up the heat.
“I was thinking about my friend, Hairy.”
“Oh, yes. Harry.”
“No. Hair-y. Not Hah-ry.”
“Okay. Hairy. What about him?”
“Remember when he got that haircut a while ago?”
“Heavens, yes! How could I forget? I’m sure everyone within a 20-mile radius heard how upset he was that day.”
“Yes. He was quite attached to his hair for a long time. Well, I mean his hair was attached to him, but it had no choice. But he was attached to it in a different way.”
“Sure sounded like it that day…The screaming…oy vey…”
“Oy what?” Witchy cocked her head.
“Oy vey. It’s a Yiddish expression.”
“A language used by Jewish people. It’s a mix of Hebrew and other languages.”
“That sounds complicated.”
“I suppose it is.”
“Are you Jewish? Is that why you said it?”
“I am Jewish, yes. Although no longer observant.”
“What? Oh, no! Liberty, can’t you see? Is something wrong with your eyesight?”
Apparently, all was forgiven — or at least momentarily forgotten — about the teeth-pulling comment. Her love for me was more important.
“No. I mean, yes. I mean…no, there’s nothing wrong with my eyesight and yes, I can see. Hmm. Feeling a sense of déjà vu, for some reason.”
“But you said you aren’t observant. Isn’t observing seeing?”
“Well, yes, sometimes. But it means following rules, too.”
“What has one got to do with the other? Why would seeing something also mean following rules?”
“I don’t know, Witchy. English is complicated.”
“Okay, I can go along with that. Anyway, what I meant was that I’m no longer observing — following — Jewish law. My spiritual beliefs expanded — ”
“You’re breaking the law?” Witchy shot to her feet, her eyes darting back and forth between the door and me. “Are the police coming? Quick! Hide!”
Rushing to the door, she bolted it and threw her back against it, spreadeagled as if to keep out anyone who might try to force entry.
Choking on hysterics, I did my best to maintain my composure so as not to embarrass my sweet friend. “No, Witchy, not that kind of law. It’s a set of religious beliefs. My spiritual beliefs expanded and although I still love and respect Judaism — the religion practiced by Jews — it doesn’t serve my spiritual needs.”
Witchy stared blankly for a few moments. “Forget the tea. Do you have any tequila?”
“No, Witchy, it’s a bit early in the day for that anyway.”
I still forget that she doesn’t understand about alcohol. They didn’t have it deep in the Transylvania Forest. The vampires drank blood, the witches drank their potions and herbal teas.
“Come and sit down at the table again, Witchy. I’ll brew the tea and can we get back to the conversation about Hairy, please?”
“Oh. Yes. Of course. Well, I saw Hairy yesterday and he seems to be recovering nicely.”
“Recovering? Was he sick?”
“Why was he recovering?”
“From the haircut. Of course!”
“Oh. Of course.” I paused, hoping for more. “And…?”
“Why were you thinky?” Was it just me?? Hmm. Must be a Full Moon. Oh, right. It will be in a couple of days…That explains it.
“I was thinking about why he had always been so attached to his hair.”
“Did he ever say?”
“No. Just that he loved his hair and didn’t want to cut it. Oh, there was that one time he said something about an old belief that people get their power from their hair. I think it was more than that, though. Hmm. Almost like a…what did you call that thing you told me about…a blankie? Something to make him feel better?”
“I see. That kind of attachment.”
“It took him ages to decide to cut it. Whenever he talked about it, he sounded almost frantic.”
“Sometimes people aren’t very good at change. You should know all about that, Witchy. You’ve had so much change since your awful trauma and needing to leave the Forest.”
“Yes, but it was necessary if I was ever going to be happy!”
“That’s true, Witchy. The problem can be more than just fear of change. We can be attached to the old ways. Buddhism teaches that the root of suffering is attachment. If we let ourselves get attached to people, places, objects — anything — we suffer because we fear life without them. But attachment goes against the Universe and the impermanence of everything in life.”
“That sounds terrifying! Nothing is permanent? Do I have to go through more big changes? Will you stop loving me? What if I don’t have any friends? Will I still be able to buy noodles?”
“Relax, Witchy. Yes, I’m sure you can have all the noodles you want forever. And I will always love you. But it’s true, you will likely have lots more changes in your life. You have learned a lot about how to deal with them, though. You could probably help your friend, Hairy, a lot by sharing all you’ve learned.”
“I’ve been doing that anyway.”
“That’s great, Witchy. That’s probably why he was finally able to release his attachment to his hair. Well, enough to get a haircut.”
“And then he panicked.”
“Yes, well, it was a big change. I mean, his hair was down to his knees. I guess a period of adjustment would be expected.”
“Now that you mention it, he was always worrying about something happening to his hair when it was long. He was afraid of it getting caught in something, of someone randomly cutting it off as a joke when he was standing in a queue — ”
“That one’s a little…unusual.”
“Yes. But he did find birds nesting in it once. I think that’s when he began considering cutting it.”
“Sometimes it takes something drastic to make us look at how we’re doing things and see if we need to do something differently. We can’t fix it or even think of changing it if we don’t know what’s wrong.”
“I’m glad he went to the barber before he had a bunch of nests in his hair. It was getting noisy with just the one family. They’re happier now; he removed them carefully and put them in a tree in his garden.”
“That was good of him.”
“Yes. He doesn’t get headaches every day now either. His hair weighed a lot! Oh, and now that he doesn’t have to spend a couple of days a week washing it, he’s been having fun doing lots of new things!”
“That’s usually what happens when we let go of something, Witchy. It’s like clearing out closets and getting rid of what we don’t use anymore. We make room for something new.”
Grinning, she finished her tea and twirled out of my cottage again, off in search of another adventure.
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