A Small Group Dinner Story about Cultivating & Letting Go


For the past 41 year in Lent, I’ve said “I’m giving up waterskiing.” Of course, I don’t waterski ever, so it was an easy give up and clearly meant tongue in cheek. But this year, I am part of a small group dinner and at our first dinner the question was “What are you letting go of?” I knew that in that intimate setting, a joke answer would not be right. And so I wondered and wondered what I was going to say.

When I heard that one of the members of my small group was giving up muttering - it caught my attention. What a wonderful word that is - muttering. And then I thought about how much I mutter in traffic. Always muttering about tourists and people who don’t know how to drive. And I thought, ok, that’s what I’m letting go of - muttering in traffic. And that’s what I shared with the group.

The very next morning I had a long drive to make - and I found myself, right away, muttering about someone who was making a right turn but hadn’t signaled. I caught myself and said to myself, “No, I am not going to mutter at that person.” And each time that morning I was able to catch myself and stop. The universe must have wanted to affirm me in this because through the long drive - across the Peninsula and all the way through Salinas, every single light was green. No red lights!

Of course, the next day, I had to start letting go of muttering all over again. I’d say, at this point, that I’m about 90% of the way there - which means that most of the time I catch myself and stop muttering. Sometimes I go back to about 60% - but then I try harder to let go of this habit.

At my next dinner group, I’m going to get to report my success. Then we will answer the question, “What are you cultivating?” I think my answer will be mindfulness. Mindfulness in traffic, in my car - it sounds like a good idea!