One recent evening I hopped on my bike and rode to visit a friend who lives nearby. It was the kind of night in late summer that promises fall is just around the corner, the cooling air prickled by the inevitable passage of time.
Together my friend and I murdered a bottle of red wine in cold blood, though we both watch enough forensic shows to have left no evidence behind. When the time came for me to ride home, the batteries in my bike headlight were dead.
“Can I have some batteries?” I asked.
“In the fridge,” my friend replied.
I chuckled with surprised. I had never heard of anyone keeping batteries in the refrigerator.
“It’s a thing,” my friend said. “That’s what you are supposed to do.”
I attributed my folly regarding the proper care of batteries to a glaring deficit in my fund of knowledge. As I rode home I reflected on all the batteries that succumbed to early deaths because of me. May they rest in voltage.
I later received a text message from my friend telling me that she did some research on the topic and learned that there is actually next to no reason to refrigerate batteries.
“I guess I can let go of that one,” she said.
In that moment a valuable reminder hit me like an electrical charge.
Let go of all things that no longer serve a purpose.
Life is full of metaphorical batteries: unfulfilling friendships, damaged romances, unrewarding careers, negative self-perceptions, and feelings of resentment, guilt, shame, anger and sadness. Holding on to such things serves us no meaningful purpose. Yet not only do we tend to hang on, but we refrigerate these afflictions in an attempt to prolong their existence.
At one time or another such things served a purpose in our lives, or at least we thought so.
At one time in my life putting energy into inadequate romantic relationships served the purpose of enabling me to search for a stable partner. Or so I thought. It actually allowed me to avoid commitment and delay a painful but necessary self-reflection period.
At one time in my life living with regret, anger and a refusal to forgive served the purpose of punishing the individuals whom I held responsible for inflicting me grave emotional injury. Or so I thought. It actually allowed me to flee from the acknowledgement and acceptance of my less than rational decisions.
At one time in my life the inability to love myself with confidence served the purpose of molding me into the person I hoped to become. Or so I thought. It actually stopped me from embracing the person I already was, a person who is pretty great albeit a little rough around the edges.
To accept that not all things and not all people will continue to hold meaning in our lives is to embrace the throbbing twinge of loss and the dull ache of grief. To let go of that which no longer serves us is certain to disappoint, to trample on our expectations and dash our hopes.
Then again, letting go in the warmth beats holding on in the cold.
And to think I got all of that from some fridge batteries.