Things We Hold On To

May 8, 2013 § 8 Comments


I have this bag. Old as the hills, ripped and torn. Well-worn and well-loved, liked an old toy. Every other day or so I stuff my swim stuff inside and head off for my laps, and don’t give it a second thought other than “wow, I’ve had this bag for ever.”  Jansport would be proud of the longevity of their product, if not disappointed that I haven’t purchased a replacement yet.

So why do I hold on to it? Is it sentimental value? Prudence? Is it the Scot in me , the “waste not, want not” philosophy I was raised with? Is it just not that important to me to have a shiny new bag for my workout stuff?

It’s all those things, really. When the final seam rips clean I’ll let it go, but for now it serves a purpose and I like it. I like that it’s red and I like its traveled past. But it got me thinking, why do any of us hold on to any variety of things?

My Dad stored things like old scraps of wood and old nails. I remember a whole wall of them in his workshop, separated by straight ones and bent ones and rusty ones and shiny ones. We always figured this was a reaction to having been raised during the Great Depression. He held on to old nails the way some people hold on to old clothes or fancy dreams. The way some hold on to hurtful relationships, or to beliefs they never questioned. Some cling to illness, some to grief, some to judgment. Some to hope.

Something else got me thinking about this, too. I’ve been getting to know a marvelous group of people who recently shared personal stories – their life stories. Every one has a story, right? But not all stories are created equal, and I can’t tell you how deeply moved I felt reading their unrehearsed words, the baring of their souls with eloquent, often heart-wrenching honesty, intertwined with humor and wisdom gleaned from some pretty intense experiences all their own, yet experiences that could also be seen as windows to parts of the universal human condition.

And what does that have to do with holding on to things? A lot. Because we all keep a hold on certain things ~ and then, in order to be healthy, move on or make room ~ we let them go. These friends gripped (and grappled with) things as long as it took to learn the next step, to make it out, to be okay, to find grace, to feel safe, to understand forgiveness, to be grateful. They either learned, or are in the process of learning, how to let go of that which doesn’t serve their highest good. And they’ve discovered, or are in the process of forging, new pathways that DO serve. They are remarkable, beautiful souls.

We’re the only ones to make that call for ourselves. Someone may nudge, “Hey Mom, you know your bag is basically a tattered rag? You could replace it you know. Just a suggestion…” But when it comes to bigger things, like Big Emotional Trappings, a nudge is pretty weak. It might even backfire. Later, when someone comes to their own peace with something, has had their own awakenings, made their own decisions, fluttered their own wings, they may look back and wonder why they held on to something for so long, or why didn’t they listen to anyone (including their own inner voice),  ~ but that’s when they take their life back. That’s when the magic kicks in. It’s a freedom song. And really, we all want to feel we have a little say along our journey.

No one can move the hands of the clock for someone else. We all wear different shoes, walk to our own rhythm, see with our own eyes, feel with our own hearts and find ways to nurture our own souls. We grasp on and linger with things – and people and conditions and situations – until we recognize their worth has gone, until we’re able to walk away, knowing they no longer define us and knowing, then, that releasing stuff is the right thing to do.


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§ 8 Responses to Things We Hold On To

  • What a wonderful blog! I found out about your blog via The road to ME on Facebook. I will definitely be coming back to this site again. Very nice.


  • Patricia,
    What a truly beautiful post. You are so right on here. We all have our own rhythm in life. I think that the key is that we realize that and accept that change is inevitable. We need to be open to change and letting go. Sometimes it might be a tattered old bag or sweatshirt…other times it might be a vice or a bad relationship. Somethings need to be addressed sooner than others, but in the end the truth is that we need to be able to let go in order to heal and grow. Thank you for sharing about the impact your friends had on you. I believe that is why we all do what we do…find the common thread that link us together. The human condition isn’t fatal, but it’s so much easier to navigate with seasoned sailors.
    I love you mate! XOXO Ella


  • usmile2Nancy says:

    So so very true are your words. Beautiful is pain for it is then we see the truth we need to learn. We grow with every day with every word but the direction we grow comes from our choices, those things we hold onto. Until the day comes we see, we realize its purpose is no more, we have learned. Only then can we let go, with gratefulness for what we have learned..
    So very well said, pure simple beautiful, thank you for this moment my friend.


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