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DSC_0233Wash It Out

One day while I was at Asilomar I was trying to explain to someone why I try to practice detachment. I said something like, “Well, it’s just important to me for everything in life. And I’m not very good at it. That’s why I have to practice.” We laughed. “It’s important for everything, huh?” Yep.

I hang on to all sorts of things. How about you? Clothes become the days that I wore them. Books are trips I took while reading them. Sometimes they encapsulated entire semesters. Old files are rife with old memories. Dishes are dinner parties. Songs are handles on the moments of my life. Sentiment seeps into my stuff like smoke from a campfire. I’m overly attached to many things.

But I’m not just attached unnecessarily to my stuff. Oh no. I’m overly attached to my ideas, my roles, my relationships. I want to have a hand in the shape and outcome of each. This of course, is not possible. I do not live in a vacuum. Life comes crashing in around me like Pacific waves on the rocks. So I practice detachment.

When I start talking about detachment, someone usually says, “What do you mean? It sounds like you don’t want to care about anything.” Or words to that effect.

But that is not what spiritual detachment is. No, detachment is rather counterintuitive. (I’ve written here about it before.) It is the practice of holding on lightly. To stuff, to ideas, to people about whom I care deeply. It is being in the moment. Letting go what I can’t control. It is welcoming the crashing in of life around me. Not always easy.

Laura Burhenn and her band The Mynabirds, have been in rotation all summer for me. I love the power and passion of her voice, the poetry of her lyrics, the play with words, the mix of frivolous and momentous. Her song “Wash it Out” says to me some things about detachment. And she says it like she means it.

It starts with a pounding that drives home its points and reminds me of hearing my own heart pounding when I meditate. Then comes Laura’s pleading and commanding voice. And as she invites laying your plans by the sea, the music lightens and lets go. The heartbeat keeps pounding all the way through . . .

“wash it out”

too much common sense will leave a bad taste in your mouth

so wash it out, wash it out, wash it out

nothing ever follows all the lines that we lay down

still it helps to think we figured something out

so lay your plans by the sea

and when the tide comes in just let them bleed, let ’em bleed


and wash it out, wash it out, wash it out

wash it out, wash it out, wash it out

wash it out, wash it out, wash it out

wash it out, just wash it out

all the evidence collected in your own defense doesn’t do you any good

pining all the blame on someone never made much sense

’cause we’re all convicts from a point of view

so lay your plans by the sea and when the thieves come in just let them take what they need


Practicing detachment doesn’t mean I don’t care. Just the opposite. It means by not being caught up in trying to control the outcome, I can care more deeply and honestly in the moment. Have I mentioned I’m not all that good at this? A convict indeed. So I better keep practicing . . . . It is one of the many gifts of Sabbath. And now is the time to enter into the rest of Sabbath.

Blessings to you!