Being Held Up Or Being Held Back?

All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on (pencil drawing by Diane Mottl)There was something in this drawing that struck a chord within me. At first, I saw a tightly wound wire tethering a fence post that was only moments away from tumbling to the ground.

But then I looked at the snarled wire again and it began to look more ominous. I saw how its sharp edges were poking this way and that; how it was snaking its way around and around, knotting and tangling itself up as it held fast. That’s when I looked at the fence post differently. Was it being held up? Or was it straining and pulling as it struggled to break free of its confinement?

Being held up or being held back?

It made me stop for a moment and ask myself: When am I under the illusion that my hanging on to something is holding me up, when really it is holding me back? Kim posed a similar question in a previous blog post (Life Lesson Learned with a Drawing Pencil):

Kim's comment

My original response to Kim’s question was: I think if I’m in the frame of mind that I’m “giving up” then it is too soon, for this usually means (for me) that I’m being guided more by insecurities, fears or frustrations. But if I’m in the frame of mind that I’m “moving on” then I think I’m being guided by that more solid place within me. The challenge (for me) is how to listen carefully enough to decipher where it’s coming from.

But now, when I look at the drawing I am reminded of how easy it is to blindly hold on to what feels familiar. How those wiry tendrils from my past can trick me into holding on to something for too long. If I am not listening carefully enough, I can fall under the illusion that the barb wire in my hand is a lifeline. I convince myself that I just need to hold on longer or tighter, and do not notice the barbs digging into my hand.

Yet when I slow down, quiet myself, and listen — really listen — that is when the picture shifts. When I  listen to my soul/inner voice, that is when I start to feel the sharp edges of the rusty barb wire digging into my hands. That is when I find the strength to trust and pull myself free. That is when I find the courage to untangle myself, let go, fall, and get back up.

That is also where I find the grace to forgive myself, for holding on for too long. For it is only when I forgive myself, that I can pull the barbs from my bleeding hand and wrap it with love so it heals. And it is in forgiving myself, that I find the strength to stand up again, my fence post straight and tall.

“Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.” — Paul Boese

“The mental and physical space we create by letting go of things that belong in our past gives us…the option to fill the space with something new.” — Susan Fay West

“If you can’t get rid of the skeleton in your closet you’d best take it out and teach it to dance” — George Bernard Shaw

“I can tell you that it takes great strength to surrender. You have to know that you are not going to collapse. Instead, you are going to open to a power that you don’t even know, and it is going to come to meet you.” — Marion Woodman

“Shame is a soul eating emotion.” — C.G. Jung

“The soul always knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.” — Caroline Myss

5 Responses to “Being Held Up Or Being Held Back?”

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  1. Jocelyn says:

    Again Diane, you have a way with the pencil, your drawings are wonderful, and you put it together so well with your words!

  2. Great post. I’m up in the middle of the night now trying to quiet my mind. This was just the post I needed to read. It’s true. Every day a special time of reflection helps me to recognize what I should embrace and what to let go. It’s hard to let go, but mainly only because of insecurities. The true art of being happier in life for me is discovering and reveling in knowing I have the ability to be happy in my own mind and being. I’m still in the process of completely celebrating every facet of my being (flaws, too), but I do hope I reach that point. Thanks for your wonderful thoughts.

    Laurie Kozlowski

  3. Every week I look forward to jumping over to read what wonder reflection and accompanying artwork you’ve shared! Every week, I’m impressed by the depth of your vision. Thank you, thank you!

  4. Nora says:

    “Giving up” or “letting go”? I associate the same as you with “giving up”, it sounds like quitting too soon, admitting defeat, lacking strength to continue, and my pride and stubbornness won’t permit it. :-) yes, I can admit that. On the other hand, “letting go” speaks to maturity, to realizing the impact of something on you, accepting it, and your own flawed humanness and moving beyond your flaws. Perhaps, even embracing your flaws and beginning to see a new ‘you’ emerging from it all.

    • Cathy says:

      Hi Diane,

      Very interesting sketch, and powerful message. I am just getting caught up on your inspirational and very thought provoking dialogue and art. The quote from Paul Boese struck a cord. Cathy