Pee on It and Get Back to Work: The Beauty of Letting Go

Pee on It and Get Back to Work: The Beauty of Letting Go

. 4 min read

Petersons work. It's what they do. They usually aren't unbalanced about it, they are rarely frantic. (Though they can be, but that's another post.) They are steady, productive, effective, across the board. I don't really know how my mother-in-law instilled this into all her children. I mean, all of them. It's a mystery I'm trying to unravel as I raise my own nest of Petersons.

One secret I've found: they are trained from a young age to know when to let go and just keep moving.

If you ever have a conversation with Mark where you are ferociously clinging to a moot point, he will make you do this exercise: he holds up a fist, he insists you hold up a fist, he opens his hand and says "let it go" and then you must do the same. It's difficult to argue your apparently small, selfish point when you're standing there open-handed.

The story goes that when Mark was a carpentry apprentice in Chicago in the sepia colored 1970s, he was trained by this journeyman carpenter who was a weathered battleax. An artist. And a freight train. Any injury, large or small, sustained on the job site had a single remedy: "Pee on it and get back to work."*

Mark and Shirley embraced that roughness and gruffness in their parenting paradigm. They work with their kids to filter out the little annoyances in service of the larger picture. This may have just been a trade off when having such a large family in the frantic, hassled years; it was the only way to get things done. That and probably more divine intervention than they know.

Resiliency and toughness are vital character traits when the undertakings are large.

Now, what I'm not suggesting is that you sweep deep emotional trauma or wounds under the rug. Don't do that. Go get help for that.

What I am suggesting is that we learn to let go of the small things.

The little infelicities, irritations, the small vexations like differences in approach, differences in how someone else expresses love or worth and how you'd prefer to receive it, the needless stress of things not going according to plan. Those small things that just buzz loudly in our ear and hinder us on our way toward deeper connection, effective collaboration, better environments, moods, lives, accomplishing an important goal.

We let go of those small things so we don't get stuck.

I think in word pictures. Allow me to squire you around my word picture emporium of letting go. I have to think like this a lot, my life is full of darling irritations and interruptions named Connor, Finnly, and Josie, my rampant insecurity, my crankiness (those are much less darling).

First, the pedestrian images, these don't really do it for me anymore.

1) Water off a duck's back (Eh, too cliche)

Image Courtesy of

2) The bright floating light. Your stress and irritations head toward it and get burnt up!

The lady on my yoga video loves this one. I can only think about Finding Nemo, you know that scene where Marlin and Dory are in the Twilight Zone of the Ocean and find the light fish.

Makes the whole thing a lot less effective.

Now, the more heady ones:

3) Dog shakes water off! They can shake off 70% of water from their fur in 4 seconds, you can too!

Image courtesy of digital

4) Eggs off a teflon pan! Slip and slide! No fuss or mess, just yumminess!

Picture courtesy of getty images

5) Your brain gets an oil change! Watch that dirty sludge drain out the back of your head!

Image courtesy of

6) Scrubbing bubbles! Your aggravation dissipates in a frenzy of carbonated happiness! (This is my current favorite).

Image courtesy of

Of course, you could sing that infernal song, you know the one. Let it go! Let it go!

I'm currently letting those scrubbing bubbles work their magic.

Now, pee on it and get back to work, everybody.

*The journeyman carpenter did not say "pee"