All the art of living lies

Letting Go While Holding On

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.

~ Havelock Ellis

So for a while now we’ve been talking about Spring Cleaning and the importance of lightening our load so we can live our best, most fabulous life. But once we lighten our load, does that mean we hold on tight to what we have?

In terms of relationships, initially it’s important to identify who to let go of but also realize that even within the relationships we hang on to, there still needs be an element of letting go.

As Ellis’ quote suggests, there must be a balance. And it is, indeed, an art. Meaning, it ain’t easy.

If we let go too much, we can come across as uncaring and apathetic. But if we hold too tightly to a loved one, we risk smothering the relationship. Holding too tightly can lead to control, manipulation, and resentment that overtime, can erode the structure of a healthy relationship.

If a truly solid marriage is when two whole people come together to share a life, then we need to maintain the integrity of our wholeness while living a life together.

Think of the beautiful pillars that hold up a temple. They are each strong in their own right but must maintain a certain amount of space in order to uphold something bigger than themselves. Engineers work hard at finding that perfect mathematical balance. The same principle goes for relationships.

We need to allow our partners their individual liberty. To allow them to maintain that beautiful autonomy that perhaps we were so attracted to in the first place. Give them their space. And expect the same in return.

I’ve seen it happen several times to close friends. A couple starts off enraptured with one another and one or both of them loses part of themselves in the other. I’ve been guilty of this myself. It may feel good at the time, but in the long-run, this can be a recipe for disaster. Even landed a friend of mine’s husband in a mental ward because he couldn’t handle the separation she was inflicting on him for wanting to be “her own person” again after years of being enmeshed in one another.

I think this is a common mistake when we’re younger and still searching for our identity through others but I’ve seen it happen to older adults as well.

So I think it’s important to always keep this top of mind and remind ourselves that when we start to feel the slightest bit controlling in a relationship, to back off. To know that we don’t have to exert power over another just to get our way. But through love, listening, understanding, and clear communication we can have our wants and needs met and live a happy life in tandem. 🙂

Kahlil Gibran beautifully articulates the concept of letting go in his poem Marriage

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

So what’re your thoughts? Do you think this concept of letting go is necessary for a lasting relationship? Have you ever lost yourself in someone? Any advice from the married folks out there on how to maintain your sense of self in a long-term relationship?

Photo courtesy of Frank Selmo

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Inspiration, Love, Relationships

ingrid schaffenburg, kahlil gibran, letting go, marriage

All the art of living lies

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Havelock Ellis

I started writing this post about a year ago. I was in Crescent Head, surfing my butt off, and hoping – some may say pushing – for my daughter to start surfing with me, on a new board that Santa brought her for Christmas.

Here’s what I wrote last Christmas:


Sometimes it’s really hard being honest. Even more so when the person you’re being honest with is yourself.

I have been trying to teach my daughter how to surf for the past week or so on our summer holiday. Occasionally Indrani has been a willing student, but mostly I have a litany of refusals ranging from “maybe later” to “I’m just not feeling like it today, Dad.”

After what seemed a promising start to the day today, my daughter Indrani was willing to have a go, and try catching some waves. Once we were at the beach however, board in tow, it was a very different story.

Her reluctance degenerated into an argument between us, and I found myself frustrated to the point of almost throwing the board away.

I gave up, and told my wife “I don’t even care if she ever learns to surf. I just don’t.”

They my wife delivered a classic one-liner that made me stop and think differently about the situation:
“Maybe you’re making this more about you instead of about her?”

“Yeah you know what? You’re probably right…” was what I actually said. (The inflection was more like “Yeah you know what? F**k off.”)

I went for a walk and had a swim. I did some thinking. I realised that my wife, as usual, was 110% correct, and had called me on the very reason my daughter was pushing back. It was all about my desire to have a daughter who surfed, rather than about whether my daughter even wanted to surf at all.

So, hesitantly, I walked back to the sand where Indrani was playing with my wife and son.

I asked Indrani to come sit next to me, and listen carefully. I explained that what I was about to say was important, and very hard for me to say.

I confessed to her that I was making the surfing thing more about me and my timeline instead of about her. I explained that I’d simply sit back from now on, and let her figure it out when she wanted to – if she wanted to.

I cried as I was having this talk with Indrani. It’s not uncommon for me to tear up when I am emotionally connected with something. In this case, I think it was partly about realising how much I’d wronged Indrani, but also partly about my ego dealing with the cost of simply letting go and letting her be her own person.

After I’d finished speaking (and crying) Indrani leaned across and gave me a hug, and then I took a walk along the beach to a spot where I could sit and cry it all out on my own, without bothering her or anyone else.

Being so brutally honest with myself to get to this point really hurt, as did letting go of my attachment to her surfing.

The upside is that my actions have created a new space between us, where Indrani feels free to tackle surfing in her own time, at her own pace.

Later the same day, for example, she went for a paddle with my wife, each of them on their own boards, and Indrani practiced standing up on the board – all of her own volition. (Precisely what had caused the argument in the first place.)

Being honest is hard at first, but the payoff is priceless.


Now it’s almost a year later, and Indrani’s surfboard has been collecting dust in the garage from the moment we returned from Crescent Head.

This morning, however, Indrani came with me to “Fluoro Friday” – a weekly get together run by the mad One Wave crew, which is all about having fun, surfing in zany fluoro gear, and getting through a funk. (“Funk” is loosely defined as anxiety, depression, bi-polar, or any other form of “downer, man”.)

The catalyst of this breakthrough was the prospect of meeting other girls her own age at the event. And the fact that there is a distinct “fashion” element, with the fluoro clothing.

The real genesis of this moment, however, came almost twelve months earlier when I wrote that piece above.

I’ve learned the value of letting go.

And in letting go, I’ve been able to hold on to my girl, and experience one of my proudest Dad moments – when Indrani caught her first wave all the way to the beach. (Not standing up, but that’s another “letting go” I’m working on.)

I let go of my attachment to Indrani’s surfing, and when she was ready, she willingly and enthusiastically started surfing. She had her outfit chosen almost a week ago, and we laid it out together on her bed last night. After a late night, I forgot to set my alarm, and Indrani came into my room at 6:01am saying “Dad! Fluoro Friday!” Excited? Nah, not much.

When she hit the sand today after her first awesome wave, Indrani jumped off the board and started jumping up and down, pumping her arms in the air with excitement.

I nearly cried.

Havelock has it true. All the art of living lies in a fine mingle of letting go and holding on.

With love,
Israel. xo


All lies: about the total lies of contemporary art: teterin — LiveJournal

Kitty Obolenskaya is a subtle and aggressive art historian. Engaged in art consulting. By order of the London publishing house Collins & James and the Moscow Slovo, he is writing a book about lies. Introduction is in front of you.

I am very good at lying, but this is hardly my innate quality. My life has taught me to lie calmly, without changing facial expressions, without much straining internally. It so happened that I constantly cheated. First parents, then teachers, teachers, boys, girls, grandmother, husbands, lovers, employers, clients - everyone who came across my path. At the same time, I do not consider myself deceitful through and through. It’s just that when I really want something, I lie, I lie fearlessly. I even developed a keen sense of smell for subtle lies. A good lie is like the world of an expensive fantasy film; you seem to understand everything, but instantly you start to believe in three-meter blue people or something else like that. But my skills still look modest and awkward in comparison with what is called the world's contemporary art - there really is someone to learn from, especially me, a modest but nice art consultant. nine0003

An inexperienced person will say about a work of art: “Nonsense, I can do that too!” And the tempted one will answer: “You can’t anymore, because someone did it before you. And he did it first, especially since this is not a lie, but a substitution, not a swindle, but a provocation. The question is always in the criteria. And there are none, just like there are no borders, just like there is no limit for a credit card when you stand in front of a vintage Alexander McQueen. There is a kind of talking reed with which the banks have grown, and through it the river has not been seen for a long time. The reed whispers in his ear: “Don't show off. Do like everyone else if you're in the game." nine0003

If you are an artist, you must be arrogant, stupid and handless - then you have a chance. If you are a critic, you must be arrogant, stupid, ambitious, drunk - then you have a chance. If you are a gallery owner, you must be arrogant, ambitious, illiterate and dexterous. Insolence and ambition in this line of work are the main components of success, as well as pure distilled lies. As soon as your arrogance and ambition disappear, you fall out of the pack, and the pack gnaws at you, starting from the heels and further to the throat. As soon as you stop lying, the party spits you out to hell. nine0003

So, everyone lies, but who lies? They mostly lie to each other. Spectators and buyers, those to whom the fiery message of visual art or new media should really be addressed, do not take part in these processes. This is interesting to three hundred people who are boiled in a liquid Russian porridge, half of coarsely chopped cow parsnip, half of pearl barley, tinted with watercolors. This is not New York for you, fat rib-eye, and not even London, where there is a hoo fish in the chips, and not even stupid, strudel-curled Vienna. There is a huge machine, there is an industry, there is a market. nine0003

Everyone who is in one way or another connected with contemporary art and the adjacent areas of painless extraction of money from the air is afraid to voice the obvious truth, because then you will have to look for another job and start living differently, without aged champagne "Veuve Clicquot", without clothes Prada and mini-cooper.

Beyond the borders of our dear homeland, the concepts of "beauty" and "value" are formed by masters of illusions with a subtle understanding of the spirit of the times, who know perfectly well who they directly address their next chiseled lie. You can pay millions for obvious nonsense, but only if the same is exhibited in MoMA, Prada or Pino have it, if de Pury rolls his eyes and rubs his hands happily, receiving it for the next sale, if the daring Gagosian, indifferent Joplin or languid Saatchi hangs out the same . And what is the result? As a result, the language no longer turns to call it a swindle. nine0003

It's obvious to me that in Russia all this is not yet there, and diligent people pretend that it is, just now something has happened for a minute. So far, there is only a rare chain of collectors, a dozen critics tormented by Narzan and a hundred different kinds of artists, so to speak, serving the same runway, which so far no one has landed on and from which no one has taken off for a long time. They do not form or create a market. Even if you open three more Artchronika magazines, the market will not appear. There is no tradition, there is no continuity either, so phantom stories easily arise, badly dished up in a way that any truth will never look like. Take, for example, Grandmaster Kabakov's last Moscow exhibition, which did not feature any of his own handicrafts. nine0003

At the same time, everyone who is somehow connected with contemporary art and the adjacent areas of painless extraction of money from the air is afraid to voice the obvious truth, because then you will have to look for another job and start living differently, without the aged champagne "Veuve Clicquot" , without Prada clothes and mini-cooper. Therefore, walking around the streets of a naked king in a false coordinate system is declared an art. This is actionism or activism. N'est-ce pas? And then we will return to the hackneyed, like a Spartak fan after a match on the road, the phrase about a thousand times repeated lies, which supposedly becomes true. No, it doesn't. To pompously wrinkle a washed-out forehead and contemptuously move the pimply wings of the nose towards those who do not understand, saying that the profane are not able to discern the hidden meanings behind this - all this will not dress the king. A clumsy lie will remain a lie, no matter how clever and intrepid hands dissect it, using the full palette of the achievements of French philosophy, American sociology and very advanced Marxist theory. nine0003

There is only one way out - we must continue to lie, complicate the lie, make it refined, subtle and elegant! Let those who get it down their throats eat and not choke, let there be many of them - thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions. ..

Fortunately, the world is bigger than our dear gate, than our cemetery overgrown with style of the late Polenov. And this big tasty kind world should become our goal.

It is necessary to stop quarreling, forcibly end petty squabbles, extinguish smoldering strife with one spit and unite front, skillfully, mercilessly and uncompromisingly begin to create a new national lie, accept lie as the main tool, for the main platform, for the mother board of what is called contemporary art . As a role model, let's take the figures of the Russian avant-garde with Kazimir Severinych and Comrade Rodchenko at the head. The charming burn-out comrade Lissitzky, backed by the GPU and the People's Commissariat for Education, quickly taught them how to fool the world elite, eager to partake of the new art. So you have to learn to lie, study and study ... in a real way, to paraphrase Lenin's grandfather. And we will succeed. nine0003

Everything is a lie: art consultant Kitty Obolenskaya about the total lies of contemporary art | We love Interview

As an add-on, the ability to die or the Art of living

Archimandrite Raphael (Karelin)

The ability to die or the Art of living

Part 15 Part 17