My brother is mighty fond of rodents. He always had a pet rat or two when we were growing up. They're still his preferred pets, fed bananas and cocktail shrimp and let out of their cage so they can climb him like a jungle gym. He's convinced his rats laugh when he tickles them. You can't hear the rat laughter because it's supersonic (or something), but he assures me it's happening. Arbiter of all things rodent, he recently told me about mice that were taken up into space. Confronted with zero gravity, most of the mice clung to the bars of their cage in terror, lest they be sucked into the black hole of the unknown. But one mouse let go. I can't imagine what the mouse felt at that moment of release, but he found himself floating in the air, twisting and turning gently in the warm gravity-less currents. Peaceful. Supported. At ease.
If that isn't a great goddamn metaphor for letting go, I don't know what is.
When I find myself resisting life or being cranky about something I can't control (or not doing what I could be doing about things I can control), I see those terrified mice in my head, gripping their cage and sending up prayers to their tiny mouse god to give them the strength to hold on. Then I see the mouse who let go, calmly floating. Maybe turning somersaults or doing a backstroke. Because he learned that he didn't need to cling, he needed to relax.
That's when I remind myself to be the float-y mouse.
Part of our job as humans is to take our fear and transform it. It's easy to try to transfer instead of transform, to try to convince our mice compatriots to cling to the cage with us so that we don't feel so alone. It takes a lot of courage to be the mouse who lets go. Or maybe it wasn't courage. Maybe his tiny paws slipped and after a moment of pure fear, he realized that he was floating, that the worst thing that could happen was actually the best.