It occurs to me that perhaps the greatest fear of writers, and people for that matter, isn’t that words will someday fail to come to them. The greatest fear may be that no one will want to listen. And we all have a story to tell. Each and every one of us. Without a doubt, some of our stories are more dramatic and exciting than others. But each one deserves, even needs, to be told. How are we to move forward if we don’t know what’s been left behind?
Ah, the phrase “left behind”…
It conjures up so many meanings. Left behind on purpose? By accident? Through forgetting? Do we choose what we leave behind in our life’s wake? Are we even able to choose, or is that choice not left up to us? Are things left behind intentionally or unintentionally? Do we even know what we’ve left? And if we don’t know—if we are blissfully unaware, does that then mean what’s been left behind was unimportant? Irrelevant? Unnecessary?
Years ago when my family and I were in the process of relocating 2000 miles across the country, I was left in charge of reserving the moving van. At the time, we lived in a large 2 bedroom apartment. When I went online to make the reservation, the moving company had the moving trucks arranged by size with notations like “big enough for a 4 bedroom house” to illustrate the dimensions of the trucks. I chose the truck that indicated it would hold the furnishings of a 2-3 bedroom house.
Moving day arrived, and several of my husband’s work colleagues started helping us load this truck. About four hours into loading up, one of the guys came into our halfway emptied apartment shaking his head at me. “It’s not going to fit,” he said. I went out to the truck to look, and sure enough—it was almost completely packed full with only 2/3 of our belongings. Even today, years later, I can clearly remember standing there next to my husband at the back of the moving van—deciding what would remain on the truck and what would be permanently left behind.
So what does this have to do with mental health?
It’s not often in life that we are faced with a situation as clear-cut as that. Life is much more subtle in her ways. Material possessions come and go fairly easily, and we don’t always notice when an object is missing. Sometimes people drift apart and relationships end quietly. And then there’s the elusive feeling that you’ve left bits and pieces of your Self strewn along the path of your life, but you can’t exactly put your finger on the how or when it all happened.
I believe life requires us to leave parts, people, places, events, things—leave it all behind in order to live fully forward. And yet, sometimes what stops us from fully living in the present is that we leave things behind before we are ready, or we pack them into suitcases and take them along as baggage for the ride. The crux of the matter is choice—our consciously made choice of letting go or hanging on.
So what is it you’re hanging on to? Or wishing you’d never let go of? What do you need to leave behind? If you’re curious about how music therapy might help, contact me anytime. I’m always happy to answer questions!