The Wisdom of Knowing What and When to Let Go


The following essay is an excerpt from a wonderful little book, “The Art of Uncertainty: How to Live in the Mystery of Life and Love It,” by Dennis Merritt Jones.

Fruit drops from the tree when it is ready. Staying too long, or moving too early, misses the mark. The mark is the appropriateness that causes the fruit to fall when it is ready…the process has its own timing, and it creates changes in your life when those changes need to happen.
~ Gary Zukav

We already know that change in life is a given. There is no way around this fact. The larger concern should be how we manage the process when it does happen. If we are conscious, we can perceive change in a manner that allows us to understand the deeper meaning, value, and purpose in the experience. When change is thrust upon us unexpectedly, we may be greatly challenged to see it as the appropriate doorway through which we must pass to our greater good. However, if we are to move forward in Earth School to “what can be,” there comes a time when letting go of “what was” becomes a prerequisite.

With mastering the art of uncertainty comes the necessary wisdom of knowing not only what to let go of, but also when to let it go. No doubt, this is a linear process in which timing plays a vital role. The good news is that contained within our karmic and spiritual DNA lies an inherent wisdom that knows far better than we when it is appropriate to release our grasp and let go of that to which we have been clinging. Our job is to bring ourselves into alignment with this inherent wisdom and trust the process.

I once talked to a man who was a professional trapeze artist and teacher. One day while teaching, he seriously injured his shoulder when the woman he was “catching” failed to let go of her trapeze at the right time. He had to hyperextend his arm to catch her, unexpectedly bearing all of her weight with his one arm. He said that if she had let go just one second sooner everything would have been fine. He went on to say that, being a fairly new student, she was probably afraid to let go. Had she been more focused on the rhythm between the two trapezes, it would have been a perfect release and catch. Rubbing his shoulder-slung arm he smiled and declared, “timing is everything.”

All things entail rising and falling timing.
You must be able to discern this.
~ Miyamoto Musashi

How true it is that when it comes to letting go of anything that has been deeply rooted in our lives, timing really is everything. We need only observe the rhythm of Life to know this is true. As we witness nature in “process” we will see that it is not a stagnate thing, but rather a vital life-force always moving; a cyclic movement of things coming and going in a manner that requires letting go and honoring the process of change with grace and ease, making space for that which is to come. When undesired “shift” happens in our lives, it can be difficult to see the appropriateness in that change.

If we were able to take a large enough step back and view the universe at work, we would be able to see the appropriateness in the natural rhythm of change moving through all that is; no one and no thing is exempt. Some things change appropriately slow, so much so that we will never see the change in a visible way in our lifetime, such as mountain ranges rising and crumbing, or the giant Sequoia Redwood trees that grow for thousands of years before they return to the elements from which they came, only to spring up again as a new seedling. Nonetheless, they do change according to their own rhythm. Other changes, such as the coming and going of winter, spring, summer and fall are more obvious and, if we are present enough in the moment to observe the appropriateness of those changes, we will see the perfection of it all.

Again, timing is everything. When we observe Life closely, we can see that every living thing is hardwired with the innate wisdom to know when change happens, not to resist it but to let go and flow with it. The only difference between ourselves and nature is that we need to be reminded that this is so. At the end of the day, the wisdom of knowing when to let go is as important as knowing what to let go of. The good news is, this wisdom lies within each of us and we are never too old to access it on our journey into uncertainty.

Excerpted from THE ART OF UNCERTAINTY by Dennis Merritt Jones with the permission of Tarcher/Penguin, a member of Penguin Group USA. Copyright 2011 by Dennis Merritt Jones

Artwork by Anya Getter.

Originally published on Beyond Blue at

Share this:

Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

More about me...




February 23, 2024
November 24, 2023
Everything Is Grace: Cultivating Gratitude From a Greater Altitude
June 11, 2023
Do One Thing Every Day That Scares You
May 20, 2023
Please Let Me Cry
February 16, 2023
Love Being Loving

Related Posts