August 12, 2013

Hold on Loosely.

Today, I received a Facebook message from someone who I admire, unrelated to any artsy type of community.  I had asked her a question and part of her answer was “hold on loosely”.  Ever since reading that, it has struck a chord in me that keeps reverberating through my head.

Hold on loosely.

It echoed around until I started doodling on paper while at work, in hopes to set the thought free (like singing a song that is on endless repeat inside your head).   

My whole life I have never succeeded at that… “hold on loosely”.  I hold on tightly.  Too tightly. 

Check out this photo… 

The tip of my index finger is white from the pressure I place on whatever tool I am using, when I write or draw or anything (cut, paint, stencil…).   

I have this vivid memory of writing in grade school, and the teacher walking behind us (the students) as we practiced our letters.   I remember him pausing behind me, when he suddenly reached over my shoulder and attempted to grab my pencil.  He failed to pull it from my hand because I was gripping it so tightly.  He told me to loosen my grasp and to let it flow.  “Hold on loosely.”  I have, to date, never perfected that grip.  To date, I have a constantly sore index finger, which is why I prefer to type over writing any day.

It isn't just physical objects.  I hold on too tightly to my emotions.  I hold on too tightly to the people that surround me.  I have a hard time letting go...a nearly impossible time, actually, of letting things just “go”.  After reading the statement today in my Facebook message, I then spoke at length with someone – again, unrelated to the person on Facebook – who brought this up as well.  She said, “You need to learn to let [it, that, fill-in-the-blank] go.”

There it was again, in different words perhaps, but there it was.  "Hold on loosely”… reverberating through my head again.

I have realized that this is different.  It isn’t about setting something or someone free.  That whole:

"If you love something/someone, set it free.  If it comes back to you, it’s yours.  If it doesn’t, it never was.”  

That isn't what I’m focusing on here.  

Hold on loosely.  If it doesn’t get pulled away, then it was meant to be.  At least for now, in the moment.   If it is pulled away, then it wasn’t meant to be.  If it isn't meant to be and you are holding on too tightly, you could get hurt in the process, in the losing of the "it"; torn up by the brutal, forced separation.  Like my index finger holding onto my pencil too, too tightly, until it aches and becomes stiff, and if that teacher were behind me to yank it from my hand, I know that it would still hurt.  

So I can hold on to what I value, but I need to hold on loosely; learn to value it while it is with me, whatever “it” is and learn that by holding on too tightly, I will be hurt by my attempts to keep “it” when the time has come for it to go.  

I need to learn how to hold on loosely.  I think I will find serenity in that.


  1. Oh how True! I also have pain from writing too hard, and calluses! and I also tend to hold on too tightly, but I am trying to learn to live with each moment. I hope you can hold on loosely like you want/need to!

  2. With school starting this week (where I live) this lesson would be so appropriate for the parents to hear.
    You can raise the child the way he should go & then you have to let them go & trust God for the rest!

    Thanks for sharing!

  3. When I read this post, I immediately thought of one of my favorite books: It's Easier Than You Think; The Buddhist Way to Happiness. There are a series of chapters about the Noble Truths. First Noble Truth- Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional. Second Noble Truth- Clinging is suffering (this is mostly what my mind went to when I read your post about holding on loosely). Third Noble Truth- Peace of mind and happiness are possible in this life.

    It's an excellent and easy read. I'm not good at practicing it myself, but I try....and I highly recommend the book. I think you might like it. It's supportive and it's one of those books that makes you feel better just reading it, even in small doses.


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