Holding on While Letting Go

In the children’s book Where the Red Fern Grows a young boy sets out to trap a raccoon.  His grandpa tells him a way to trap a raccoon using a brace to bore holes in a log, and you hammer nails in along the shaft.  Finally to set the trap, you put something shiny at the bottom.  Raccoons can put their hand-like paws down inside the trap, but once they make a fist over the shiny object their paw is stuck.  Raccoons will never let go.  Because they will never let go, they are trapped.  If they let go, they would walk away unscathed, but they die because they refuse to give up the object precious to them.  My best guess is sometimes you are raccoon in this metaphor, and sometimes you are the shiny object.

The problem with deciding whether to hold on or to let go of something is there is no real way to know you are making the “right” choice.  If you let go, you are in a way surrendering.  If you hold on, you might meet the same fate as the raccoon. There are songs all over the radio telling us to hold on.  Whether we be holding on to one more day, holding on cause we are going home, or holding on to what we’ve got, we are inundated with the message to hold on.  Not until the Frozen soundtrack was released over radio waves had anyone told us musically it was okay to “let it go” in a way that spun it as a positive thing.  So, what is the right thing to do?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the problem is not in the choosing.  The problem is never thinking beyond what is here and now. If you stay in the moment, then you’ll never let go.  Moments change, and as they change, so do we. The best route to take is to ask yourself what the end game is.  Is there an end game?  If there is no end game, what are you holding on to?  Pipe dreams, a load of optimism, and a chance to be very jaded is about all you really have.

But what if you hold on just because you want to hold on?  What if you hold on because that is what you really want? No one can tell you that holding on is the wrong thing if this is the case, because you know your heart.  You’ve weighed options, and you’ve decided.  Nothing will change that decision.  That is when you should hold on.  Unless it turns out you are the raccoon, that is. If what you want to hold on to for dear life is a direct conflict of what someone else has planned, it’s time to release the shiny object, withdraw your hand, and leave the woods.  Chances are though, you won’t leave the woods the same way you came.

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