In “Letting Go,” Gail Rubin, Certified Thanatologist, explains how we can live better lives by loosening our grip on old emails, objects, and relationships that don’t work. She delivered this speech during the 2018 Toastmasters International Speech Competition in Division B, District 23. A transcript of the speech follows.
Recently, I learned a valuable lesson about letting go from a Comcast technical support guy named Avinash.
For a week I’d been sending emails, not knowing they were disappearing into Internet ether. The Mail program on my computer said I’d sent messages, but the online interface for Comcast showed nothing.
Through an online chat, Avinash assured me: “I am here to assist you.” Over an hour and a half, we reset the modem, cleared the browser’s cache and cookies, and changed the Mail program settings.
Then Avinash dropped the bomb. “Gail, we need to delete that account from your Mail program.”
Now, I had 8,135 emails from the past year and a half in my in-box. They needed careful review. Plus, there were six years of saved emails in other mailboxes for that account.
As I followed his advice, a screen popped up. “Are you sure you want to remove the Comcast POP account and all of its messages?” Well, no, I didn’t want to do that.
“This is the only way to resolve your issue,” Avinash assured me. “You will be able to see all of your email in the Mail program.”
I deleted the account. Upon restarting the Mail program, HOLY COW! All 8,135 emails in the in-box and six years of saved emails were GONE…. And I didn’t die!
Avinash gave me a great gift. Those thousands of emails were clutter, a stressful burden. I didn’t need them. I don’t miss them. What a lesson in letting go.
Like old emails, physical objects that clutter our homes and offices are also stressful burdens. Less-than-stellar gifts and nicknacks; stacks of paper, books we’re not going to read, clothing we don’t wear or doesn’t fit: it all generates stress.
I moved to New Mexico from Washington, D.C. in 1990 with just the clothing and household goods that fit in my Honda hatchback. I rented a furnished apartment for a year and a half until I bought my house. It’s amazing how little you need to live well.
A moving van delivered the rest of my household goods, liberated from my parents’ basement – much to their relief. It was like Christmas, being reunited with so many treasured items.
Yet over the years, books, clothes, furniture, and other items have been donated or sold. If you don’t use it, need it or love it, it’s clutter that weighs you down. Let it go.
When you hold a glass of water at shoulder level, for the first five minutes it’s not so bad. After 30 minutes, an hour, a day, your arm would be very sore. When you hold on to clutter for months, years, decades, it causes stress and pain.
When we clutch the objects of the past, we can’t receive the gifts of the present. Letting go allows the new to come into our lives, which are always changing.
We’re born. We grow. We move. We age. We die. We’re always changing. I love change and adventure.
But my first husband Bob did not. Bob and I went to college together and got married after graduating and securing jobs. We moved into a brand-new townhouse in Rockville, Maryland in 1983. Great exciting changes!
And then – sameness. Hanging with the same friends, dining in the same restaurants, following the same routines. Well, he did change his underwear.
Bob resisted new experiences. I was suffocating in sameness and left in 1988. He still lives in that townhouse in Rockville and still hangs with the same group of friends.
My second husband Dave and I have been married 17 years. We’re still going strong, having all kinds of adventures. Letting go of a relationship that didn’t work made room for one that does.
Rest assured, we will always be connected to people we have loved, over time, distance and even beyond death. Hey, I’m friends with Bob on Facebook!
So what are you holding onto that’s weighing you down? Letting go of emails, objects, and even people will help you live a happier, healthier, lighter life. If you don’t use it, need it or love it, let it go.
And if you have trouble letting go of old emails, contact Avinash at Comcast.
About Gail Rubin, CT
Gail Rubin, CT, is an unconventional death educator who’s available for speaking engagements. She’ll “knock ‘em dead” with her enthusiastic approach to getting the conversation started on life and death issues using humor and funny films, just as she did at TEDxABQ.
Her talks are appropriate for a wide range of audiences and settings, including conferences and conventions for funeral directors and social workers, for hospices and hospitals, at colleges and businesses.
Her title is The Doyenne of Death®. A doyenne is a woman who’s considered senior in a group who knows a lot about a particular subject. Gail makes learning about end-of-life issues enjoyable and entertaining. Sponsors can reach the thousands of baby boomers and seniors who enjoy her talks every year.
Download a list of talk topics here. Call Gail at 505.265.7215 to discuss the possibilities!