Hold on loosely

Most of the radio stations in Chicago seem to be classic rock.  So when driving I’m often listening to these stations  – hearing oldies (but goodies) and I’m usually belting out lyrics, fist pumping and rocking out to Eddie Money, Rush, Van Halen and the like.

The other day while driving to my Highland Park studio 38 Special’s “Hold on Loosely” captivated me (yes, I really said that). I never expected to find quality advice from 38 Special, but after all, they are good ole southern boys (I have a thing for them) and they used to open for Lynyrd Skynyrd and Hank Williams Jr.

This is one of the reasons I’m so passionate about music — any genre, at the right moment, with the right beat, voice, rhythm, volume – my mood transforms and I go places!  Listen to this:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vJtf7R_oVaw&feature=artist   (you have to listen to an annoying 30 sec ad first and then you’ll hear/see the tune)

You see it all around you
Good lovin’ gone bad
And usually it’s too late when you, realize what you had
And my mind goes back to a girl I left some years ago,
Who told me,
Just Hold On Loosely, but don’t let go
If you cling to tightly,
you’re gonna lose control

Whether it’s good lovin’ gone bad, good friendships gone bad, good ideas gone bad, good wine gone bad — when we hold on with a tight clutching grip we have problems.

Seems like an easy thing to learn, yet it’s exactly the opposite.  I’m still learning this tough lesson.  Why?  I’m scared to let go.  I’m scared of losing what I’m holding.  Or, what I’ve discovered is often the illusion of holding.  I can’t hold on to what I want or believe and never experience resistance or the need to loosen my grip and often drop the reins.

The desire and need for control – to seek security or safety through attachment – is an illusion.  It’s delusional really.  The notion that we can control if we hold on – if I tighten my grip, if I use both hands, wrap my legs around also, squeeze it with all my strength and will.  I’ll keep it.

Truth…the only thing I’m clutching is fear.  Fear of loss.  Fear of losing this false sense of security, safety and control.

A few posts ago, I shared the metaphor my shrink uses all the time – I think I can get chocolate ice cream at the shop that doesn’t serve chocolate.  The holding on to my belief that I can, and I will (!), get chocolate is an illusion of control, and this illusion actually prevents me from getting chocolate (what I want).  I have the tendency to get stuck – stuck in my determination of getting what I want at this shop that doesn’t have it – failing to accept the reality of this and go next store to 31 Flavors.

The Truth is by letting go we get closer to safety because we stay present and aware of our reality – our humanness, our limited ability to control, our opportunities to provide safety to ourselves (not through attachments to others/objects), and we accept our impermanence.

Last time I wrote about home and feeling like I can’t ever go home again.  It’s the holding on to the feelings of home – the attachment I have to memories, relationships, and youth – that keeps me homesick.  The letting go, loosening my grip, opens my heart to new attachments and new home-feelings.  The realization of this truth is wisdom. The past is gone and tomorrow is always the future, there is only now.

Some of that “past is gone.  All we have is now – stuff” feels extreme and just not practical.  There are times when holding on can be healthy, good and the right thing to do.  Like holding on to my puppies leashes when they get excited and want to chase squirrels.  Holding onto the steering wheel while driving.  Holding a child’s hand while crossing the street…

One area where holding on helps me is holding on to the big guy.  I never had this relationship until my friend I visited in India.  He taught me that the Big Guy is here for me to hold onto…and this holding on can be what I want and need.  No judgments and no denial.  A simple belief that the world is bigger than whatever it is that I’m struggling with and this too shall pass.  Holding myself with faith that the big guy is real and I’m going to be okay – I can find calm in an auto rickshaw in the middle of Delhi.

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2 Responses to Hold on loosely

  1. I think it was Jung who said “when it’s time, let go.” He was talking about life and death, but it also applies to just life and living. Too much holding on to what we want — whether a bunny or a person or a desire — will simply make it squirm to get away. Or, as it stated on the poster that half the women I went to college with hung on their walls: “if you love something, set it free….” I don’t even need to finish it, because we all know what it said.

  2. Mandy says:

    Love it!! And don’t forget hold on to your amazing self!! Just loosely enough to allow for growth (and the occasional pancake binge).

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