Friday, April 27, 2012

Hold On

c. Sharon Willen
Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken-winged bird
And cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams,
For if dreams go,
Life is a barren field,
Frozen with snow. 

This is one of my favorite Langston Hughes poems. And it makes me think of a metaphor I used when doing corporate training and organization development years ago. In front of a group of high-powered managers and executives, I'd ask them each to make a fist and experience the feeling of control we associate with that gesture. And then I'd ask them what power that kind of control actually afforded them. What can you really accomplish with a closed fist? On the other hand, literally, I'd ask them to leave their palms open, and wiggle their fingers and opposing thumbs, the special feature of the human hand. "Now consider the amazing progress you can shape with this kind of more flexible control." 

What kind of power are you most comfortable with? The power to dream, the power to control or some other power?

Holding, holding fast, holding on, different. Here's a poem on a related note that I wrote several years ago.

Hold On

Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
No, I will not hold on.

I will not “hold on for a minute”;
I will fully experience each minute with a glad heart,
the good and the bad of it,
because this minute is all I have.

I will not “hold on to my tongue”;
I will speak of what fills my mind and overflows my heart,
because the positive grows when released,
and the negative kills when kept silent.

I will not hold on to people or things;
I will gratefully accept the abundance that surrounds me,
as a dynamic, satisfying illusion
that comes and goes.
I will not hold on to dreams or goals;
I will ignore that single-focus habit of my youth.
Instead, I will feel for the roots of the trees as I wander,
listen for the wings of the hummingbird as I sit in the sun,
and join with the voice of the wren out on a limb.

I will not hold on to myself,
for the “self” that can be “held” is merely
an identity I have learned to believe is me.
I will rest into the pure potential
that is now, was and always will be,
beyond mind and emotion,
beyond words and knowing.

Hold on. Hold on. Hold on.
No, I will not hold on. I cannot hold on.
I already have let go.


  1. Great sentiments...especially with a teenage daughter...and a twenty something son...being with them is an exercise in holding on AND letting go at the same time...and especially poignant for me today...the anniversary of my mom's passing. Thanks.

    1. So true about the relationship with the gen next. One thing I think we are together in, holding on to the memory and lessons we learned from the generation that has come and gone and left so much with us.

  2. "I cannot hold on. I have already let go." My feelings expressed. Thanks for your sharing, Sharon!
    A Fan,

    1. You are certainly one of my role models for a free spirit, Sadhvi. Thanks for the comment.