The call came in at 7:14 on a Tuesday night.
It was from one of the IT managers at work.
“Barb,” she said, “(Other IT Manager who shall remain nameless) accidentally deleted your identity from the server.”
That’s not so bad, I thought. With a few keystrokes my identity will be restored before morning.
Then she uttered the words that would send a spine tingling chill up my spine to rival the spine tingling chill that toads send up my spine each time I even think about encountering one in my driveway.
“All your e-mails are gone,” she said.
She might as well have told me that every word in recorded history had been erased.
Gone were the dozens of folders where I’d saved hundreds of e-mails, ranging from “Instructions on how to do everything I need to know to do my job,” to “things I will get to some day.”
The pregnant pause on my end served two purposes,
1 – To give me time to swallow the bite of pepperoni pizza I’d just taken.
2 – To help me compose myself long enough to realize I was not alone, and the hissy fit I was about to have would have sent a toddler to her room for a timeout.
“Don’t panic,” came the words on the other end of the line. “I’m doing a backup and I think I can recover everything. I will get back to you by tomorrow morning.”
I shared my crisis with my dinner companions who quickly reassured me that everything would be fine. Just let it go, they said.
Coincidentally, or not, it was the theme of an e-mail I’d received earlier in the day from a friend regarding a challenge with which we’d been struggling.
“Letting go” was the subject of her e-mail. Its simple message was to let things go and let them work themselves out.
Let it go. Easy to say. So hard to do.
“If you love something set it free. If it comes back to you it was yours. If not, it never was,” a popular phrase from my high school days, popped into my head.
Bullshit, I thought. I don’t want to let go. I want to be clingy and hang on to the things that I am used to having — Like keeping the status quo in my relationships and holding on to my gazillion e-mails.
Why do I have to let them go?
Why can’t things just continue to be the way they always have been? Why do I have to change? Why do I have to learn life’s lessons?
As dinner ended and my sanity slowly returned, I remembered a similar e-mail situation about a year ago when I accidentally wiped out, not just my e-mail, but my entire hard drive.
After the initial panic of realizing I had “lost everything” passed, it was replaced by an overwhelming sense of gratitude and freedom. Gone were my files. But a clean slate replaced them.
Little by little I started applying that same logic to my current e-mail dilemma. And almost instantly, I felt better. I couldn’t even remember what those e-mails were about.
WOOHOO! They’re gone, I thought. I don’t have to ever worry about them again.
I will let them go and do a happy dance.
And then my phone rang.
“Barb,” my IT manager said. “Good news. Your e-mail files have been recovered.”
Just as I let them go, they came back.
Is it really that simple? I wondered.
What if we apply this principle to all the things we hang on to so tightly for fear of losing them?
Will we lose them if we let them go? Or will the act of letting go bring peace and move them closer to us without the ego attachment that creates a false sense of ownership?
I believe the latter is true. And I’ve got over 1,000 lost and recovered e-mails to prove my point.