The metaphor of wearing life like a loose garment resonated with me many years ago when I was being ultra serious and hard on myself. I felt like I was wearing a heavy overcoat that weighed a ton. Growing up in Canada, I know how burdensome it feels to wear a heavy jacket in winter. It’s uncomfortable. It’s restricting. It makes you feel bound up like a mummy. No room to move. No freedom. No fun. I can remember the freedom I felt when springtime finally arrived and I could brush off the heavy jackets and wear t- shirts and shorts. It felt great!wearing a heavy jacket
What does it mean to wear life like a loose garment? It means to let go of the struggle of life. Not to hold on so tightly to life. To allow life some freedom. Not to constrict it. Not to bind it up so that it has no choices.
If we make our lives follow a specific path and we do not dare to vere off that path, we will become stagnant, tight, bound up, fearful of the unknown. Spontaneity will be suppressed. Rigidity and predictability will become our gods.
To wear life loosely means we accept what is. We welcome new things, new ideas, new friends, new places. We desire all that life has to offer in its sweetness. We stop to smell the roses and the sea air and the freshly baked bread. We don’t wait for life to happen to us. We plunge into it with the joy and wonderment of a small child.
We let go of one thing at a time. We recognize that we can’t change a lot of what happens around us, so we smile and let it go. We do what we can and accept reality. We don’t fight and struggle with things we have no control over.
We don’t lose sleep over problems we cannot solve. We recognise that everything is happening just as it should. That all is well. That a higher power is in control and that we don’t have to worry about anything. And we trust the process of life. Wearing life loosely means looking at the bright side of life, laughing a lot, and seeing the positives in every situation.
When I meet people who are holding on tightly to life and wearing it like a straight jacket, I suggest they loosen up a bit at a time. They can start letting go of the little things, and eventually they will feel comfortable, and even happy, wearing life loosely. But they often look at me with fear in their eyes and say things like: “But if I don’t worry or think about this or that who will? And then what will happen? I can’t let go of my child’s drug problem. I can’t let go of the abusive behaviour of my neighbour. I can’t let go of my depression.”
This is wearing life in a straight jacket. It is pure misery. If you find yourself saying you can’t, ask yourself: “If I could, would I be prepared to let it go?” Then ask yourself when would you be willing to do that? Set a time limit. “Okay, I’ll let go of my husband’s drinking next week.” Why hang on for another week? Why not experience peace right now? Why not try letting go today, this moment? Experiment. Let go of one worry you are dwelling on right now. Every time it pops into your mind (worries have an uncanny way of doing that), simply say, “Let it go.” And then breathe a sigh of relief. You are one step closer to wearing life like a loose garment.
If it helps, imagine the feeling of wearing a heavy coat, buttoned up to your neck, constricting and uncomfortable. Then imagine un-doing the buttons and feeling the coat loosen a bit. Then imagine taking the coat off and throwing it away. Tossing it over a cliff into the ocean! Feel the relief of that! That’s what it’s like to wear life loosely. Things feel easier. Life feels more relaxed. The path ahead seems smooth.
Wearing life loosely means being flexible, opening the way to exciting new experiences. It also means feeling the fear but doing it anyway. Remember, fear is the same physiologically as excitement (pounding heart, sweaty palms, jittery, wobbly legs etc). Change the frame around which you see events and situations. If something feels fearful, try seeing it as exciting instead!
Wearing life loosely also means following your intuition and changing plans if that feels right. Tuning into your deeper feelings will give you new insights. Take time to breathe deeply in order to go deeply. Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way as if it is an assignment from the universe. Be optimistic and ready for adventure. Enjoy the moment. Don’t worry about the future. Believe in yourself. Live every day as if it were your last!