The Fear in Holding On

Apple: Nikon D3s

Apple: Nikon D3s

“I don't know what's right and what's real anymore,
I don't know how I'm meant to feel anymore,
When do you think it will all become clear,
'Cause I'm being taken over by the fear.”

(Lily Allen)

The spectacular, beautiful tree fell in a storm nearly two months ago .

Now, each day as I walk past, I check to see if this last remaining red apple, holding on to a newly vertical bough, has finally let go.

The rest of the apples are lying in the grass but I know I will miss the bright spectacle of this one when it finally succumbs to the combination of time and the reorientation of its environment. In the meanwhile, I’m not sure whether to celebrate its resilience or feel critical of its denial.

As I ponder, I notice reflections of my own capacity for heroic ‘resilience’ in the face of changed circumstances and the shifts that I have experienced over the last year. I’m not feeling so cavalier these days.

About 15 years ago, I gave up a guaranteed job for life and, on a wish and a prayer, set off on a new consultancy and academic career. These days, as my practice inevitably finds its way back to imagery, connection and witnessing, I realise that I am much more fearful as I try to resurrect a mindset of arrogant invincibility that underpinned previous professional achievements.

So, what does it take to step away from our conventional notions of status and success to seek a more meaningful, sustainable contribution to the world? As we experience the relentless fetishisation of (over)work, what would it take for me to achieve a healthy, balanced life? Do I give up my fast car? What about my phone? How about my glass of chilled, expensive Sauvignon Blanc?

When will it become clear?

I know that I am not in charge of who I am, my identity is formed and negotiated socially, and to step away from ‘normal’ is to be changed by the process, risking exclusion and shame. Genuine change is not easy.

So, from inside my Western privilege, I will try, half-heartedly, to consume less. I won’t eat meat. I will buy Patagonia or Everlane clothes, and vegan shoes.

But, even though I know that my own lifestyle is contributing to systemic failure and our collective demise, will I ever face the fear and find the courage to let go?


I’m indebted to @stevexoh and @paulettya for some excellent conversations this week on what it takes to commit to difference.

Elon Musk has advocated 80-100 hours a week; thankfully, we are seeing some push back…

Patagonia recently announced it would give away $10 Million in tax refunds to environmental groups.

Here I am on Jeff Weigh’s podcast joyfully nattering on about life’s Perfect Imbalance.

Steve Marshall2 Comments