Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hanging On Versus Letting Go

For the last three weeks, my family has been debating "hanging on" versus "letting go." Here's the situation:

During our spring vacation, I flipped out of a river raft in a Class IV rapid. I held on to the thin safety cord attached to the raft with a grasp so intense that my pinkie finger was numb for the next ten days. And I injured my shoulder. It all happened so fast; I didn't know whether I'd smashed my shoulder against a rock, or tore it up by hanging on. Thus, our family debate.

I held on because I didn't want to go down this rapid like these people (this is NOT me):

And I didn't fall out of the raft again, not even when we got stuck between boulders with water rushing over us. I held on like crazy, painful shoulder and all. But I've been thinking about hanging on ever since. If I had let go, maybe I wouldn't have hurt my shoulder...

Over the years, I've hung on to a lot of things when I should've let go: not-so-good relationships, dead-end jobs, unrealistic goals...and a cute skirt that never quite fit.

The thing is: deep down I knew I needed to let go of the relationships, the jobs, the goals, and even that skirt. But I didn't trust my intuition--you know that feeling that pricks your gut, whispers in your mind? Eventually, things reached the point that I absolutely had to let go--of the relationships and jobs and goals that simply didn't work. I also--finally--gave the skirt to a friend, and it looks great on her.

So back to the river raft: I did trust my intuition. I knew I wasn't a strong enough swimmer to escape a Class IV rapid, so I held on. And I didn't regret my decision--even if it meant surgery. Last week, I was happy to learn that I broke my acromion bone (the very top of my shoulder) by smashing against a rock when I flipped out of the raft. No torn muscle, no surgery!

Holding on didn't hurt me this time, but I still think it takes more courage to let go.


  1. Holy Batman!! Sydney I hope you're feeling better by now.

    I totally get what you're saying about letting go. I struggled for months with the idea of letting go of my agent. But I finally did, and I haven't regretted it.

  2. Glad to hear you're okay! I've been thinking about you a lot these past few weeks, and I do think it takes a lot more courage to let go.

  3. Wow, Sydney. What a story and a great post. Thanks for sharing. I can't help but think how this applies to writing, too.

  4. Thanks you guys! I agree that it applies to many situations--now if I can just keep remembering that...

  5. I have a pair of jeans that really need a new home... thanks.

  6. This is such a great post, Sydney. And so profound.

    Good luck with your healing shoulder, and with learning to let go.

  7. Bethany, I inspired myself to finally ditch my really, old sweatpants.

    And, thanks, Elissa. My shoulder is slowly healing--I'm hoping that I'll be able to reach the back of my head by next week. I've been suffering WAY too many bad hair days!!!