Hold Nothing Back

LAST WEEKEND my best friends and I camped in the snow above California’s Yosemite Valley.

We buckled up our snowshoes and set out to build an igloo.

The granite face of El Capitan stared back from across the valley.

A tiny orange dot glimmered; the light from a climber, scaling the natural wonder.

We watched the water of Yosemite Falls leap from the opposite cliff into a bed of snow; Half Dome loomed in the distance amongst other precipitous peaks; snow covered the mountains and the ground beneath our feet.

The evergreen trees in the valley moved together to the tune of the wind, swaying as one.

From up in the sky, looking out over one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed, I read from my pocket edition of the Tao Te Ching:

CH 50
“The Master gives himself up
to whatever the moment brings.
He knows that he is going to die,
and he has nothing left to hold on to:
no illusions in his mind,
no resistances in his body.
He doesn’t think about his actions;
they flow from the core of his being.
He holds nothing back from life;
therefore he is ready for death,
as a man is ready for sleep
after a good day’s work.”

I focused on just this chapter, because when I read it I couldn’t let it go. I read it aloud to the squad several times over two days.

The passage felt harmonious with our setting, the experience we were having, and the season of life we’re in.

You might notice from the stories I wrote this week that I’ve been contemplating fear, and what it means to truly live.

There’s something about being out in the woods, exposed to the cold, raw, open arms of nature that simplifies life.

Drink the air. Experience the sun rise and fall. Watch the colors in the sky change. Build a fire and let it dance. That’s all that one must do.

Life can feel so complicated.

In our day to day lives, we lose track of what it means to just live. To seek nothing from the day but a laugh with friends or a beautiful sunrise.

The worry, the anxiety, the fear, the weight that builds from being alive — it’s okay to feel these things.

It’s human to experience these emotions; but they don’t define us.

We’re here to witness beauty, the antidote to the burdens of life. We’re here to smell the pines that give us breath and to feel the heat of fire.

We’re here to laugh and cry in each other’s arms (yup, that was me).

We hold back the words which, if released, might lessen the weight — our true thoughts, our dreams, our fears.

But why do we hold on?

What does it mean to hold nothing back?

What does it mean to be alive?

There is no right or wrong answer.

There’s only an adventure to be had in searching for your truth.

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