The tenacity it takes to get a grip in the face of these forces or conditions is akin to the amazing powers of insects to climb walls, or that of barnacles to attach themselves to ship hulls. The unique thing about our stick-to-itiveness is that we must keep changing up, sticking to one thing after another, creating direction and purpose for our lives. We also have to release our grip from time to time, if not to establish a new footfall, to step back enough to gain perspective. The same firm grip we have that amounts to traction also obscures what lies both in the past and in the future. Dreams and learning become impossible if we cling too securely to one thing. Like the rock climber, clinging desperately to a handhold, no progress can be made if we hold too tightly, each point which we grasp must be abandoned if progress is to be made.
To function fully, we need to develop skill in both grasping and releasing, otherwise we fall prey to our own limited perspective and slowly ossify or else we drift without direction or purpose. Grasp, release, grasp, release, grasp release. Like Laurie Anderson's Walking and falling, we ideally cycle along our paths in a state of change from one phase to another. Complicating the matter is the issue of timing. As we move along our unique paths, certain times are better for others for each and every grasp and for each and every release, knowing when can often be as important as knowing what needs doing. When I was young and certainly more impulsive, it bothered me to no end when land owners would say things like, "That's not a creek, that's a ditch." or "That field has been in hay for twenty years, it is some of the healthiest soil on my farm." I had a hard time letting go. I had grasped the fact that we all live under the highest point in the local watershed, our roof and that wherever water collects and drains is as important as any other. I also knew that their treating their part of the watershed like a ditch was behind the tragic costs and consequences that degrade the water that flows past my house. Additionally, I understood the need for cycling both nutrients and carbon through a living soil. Soil health cannot be assured just because we think that hay produced, and removed for an entire generation magically grows out of thin air.
We cycle through thoughts and ideas much like a tire spins, picking up bits of debris, leaving them somewhere else. In life, we have the ability to renew our vitality and composition as tires do not, but whether or not we make forward progress is often determined by what we pick up and what we leave behind. Once we make good decisions, we must also learn how to move them forward into actions that have the power to outlive us, inspire others and move our culture in positive directions.