Holding On and Letting Go

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.
— Havelock Ellis


I read this quote from Ellis and immediately flashed back to a vivid, teenaged memory. Friends of my older brother took me water skiing for the first time. They gave me very little instruction, just, “There’s nothing to it, but hold on for dear life.” So I did. It was great fun for awhile. Then I fell. And I continued to hold on for dear life, being dragged through the water until I thought I’d surely drown. Finally my brother and his friends noticed I’d fallen and slowed the boat. They circled back to pick me up and said, “Next time hold on for dear life until you fall and then let go for dear life.” A good lesson.

There are so many different parts of life where, whether we realize it or not, we regularly make the choice to hold on or let go. Here are some:

  • opinions, assumptions, judgments
  • belongings
  • relationships
  • memories
  • habits

I shared the quote with friends and family and then surveyed them, asking “What would you like to hold on to and what would you like to let go of in this next year?”

Here are the fascinating responses:

Hold on to:

  • loving relations with family – flowing all the time
  • rituals (not too stiff & rigid)
  • creativity
  • people I can have meaningful conversations with on a variety of subjects
  • comforting daily rituals (tea, inspirational reading)
  • patience
  • noticing what’s beautiful
  • health
  • my inner self
  • the roof over my head
  • wonderful memories of loved ones living and dead

Let go of:

  • superficiality
  • self righteousness
  • worry
  • fighting changes that simply are
  • relationships where I can’t have deep conversation
  • perfectionistic tendencies (would like to invite people over even if my house is cluttered)
  • blaming & complaining
  • martyrdom
  • clothes that still fit but I don’t like them
  • physical facade
  • controlling ways
  • self aggrandizement
  • material things
  • being busy, busy, busy

Coaching Tip:

Sit with this question awhile and make your own list of what you’d like to hold on to and what you’d like to let go of. Be really honest. It’s quite a fascinating subject to struggle with. If the art of life truly is a mingling of holding on and letting go, it seems reasonable that our lives could be improved by making our choices thoughtfully.

Reach me: 1-888-907-HOPE (4673)or e-mail I am a personal and executive coach and would be happy to offer you a complimentary coaching session by phone.

Each month FRESH VIEWS focuses on a single topic, relates it to one of the five disciplines of a learning community, and offers a coaching tip and a follow-up telegathering. Please forward it to friends and colleagues. My purpose in writing FRESH VIEWS is to nurture, prod and encourage readers to think and talk about these topics with their families, friends and colleagues. Mine is only one view. Multiple conversations may deliver us to insights only hinted at here. Such a process sustains the vitality of learning relationships, learning families, learning organizations and learning communities.

Sharon Eakes | 720 Maple Lane | Sewickley, PA 15143

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