I was utterly captivated by the video of the fisherman tossing the baby otter into a Washington state harbor.
The pup had been separated from his mother during a storm, and the fishermen were desperately trying to reunite them. A great idea led them to record the pup’s cries on their phones. Then, they played the recording over the boat’s loudspeakers while docked in the harbor to attempt to communicate with the mother otter. The mother eventually responded to her pup’s wails and swam toward the boat.
I can only imagine what it must have felt like when she realized that the fisherman had rescued her precious child and returned him to her in the calmer water. She instantly scooped him up, cradled her sweet bundle of innocence, and swam back to reunite with the other otters. It’s five sentimental minutes of my life I won’t get back, but it’s also five minutes of my life that reminds me of the beauty of release.
Coincidentally later that day, I overheard a conversation about the KonMari Method of tidying up. I listened to two women discuss their decision to donate two-thirds of their wardrobes to professional women’s organizations, domestic abuse shelters, and other charities. They celebrated their newfound uncluttered mental state and the less-is-more spring cleaning concepts.
If you’re not familiar with this tidying up craze, the basic premise of the KonMari Method is that you are to release material items that no longer bring you joy. And by releasing with joy, it becomes a source of joy for others and allows room for new joy to fill your heart, mind, and physical space.
This new art of practicing release is the conscious difference between just throwing stuff away versus a loving and intentional surrender. While purging is relatively non-emotional, authentic release is blessing the detachment, finding authentic forgiveness, and surrendering with the best intention. This is the catharsis and empowerment behind the KonMari method.
And it goes beyond just tangible stuff. Maybe you still don’t have any legitimate reason or logic for why a certain situation turned the way it did. Nevertheless now is the time to lovingly release it, despite the lack of closure or absence of justice that you deserved. Maybe it means that you have evolved from situations and relationships that no longer serve your best and highest interest. It means lovingly releasing, or at least distancing, all of the people, situations, and things that are no longer complementary to your journey.
If I’m being completely honest, I struggle with this. Releasing does not come easily because I find it incredibly scary to create voids intentionally. I have actually convinced myself to keep a couple of toxic people around because I want to believe that maybe someday the situation will improve, even though time and experience has proved that change is unlikely. I’d rather keep a dress that is two sizes too small because someday I may reach that goal and finally get to wear it. I find comfort in the distorted notion that predictable mediocrity is better than the riskier choice that mediocrity could be replaced by something far worse. After all, a piece of bread with moldy crusts still has some edible crumbs, right?
But if I am to draw wisdom from baby otters and Marie Kondo, I should embrace that release means believing in optimistic possibility, making space with intention to welcome in beauty, truth, and love. It means taking a risk, but it also means that there could be more calm, more peace, more balance, and higher quality of life and relationships.
And when we release with pure loving intention to put joy into the universe, I can’t help but hear Karma’s sweet whisper, “I see you, girl. And have I got some joy on the horizon for you!”