Monday, March 11, 2013

Hold on by Letting Go

Last year I came across a must-read book by the unique author, Stephen J. Cannell, called "King Con." Let me tell you more about it.

The female protagonist of the book, Victoria Hart, becomes involved in a great con-job led by an artful, playful, and gutsy con artist named Beano Bates. This book immediately gripped my interest within the first few chapters because of the personality differences between Victoria and Beano.

Victoria is the type of person who labels her binders, organizes her notes, and has a personal script for herself in the professional field of law. As often happens, her habits in personal life reflect what she practices in her career. She is not someone who "plays it by ear" or "flies by the seat of her pants" in new situations. She's the type of person who plans it all out so that she can be sure of the outcome as much as possible.

Beano Bates, on the other hand, could also be said to have planning skills--but in the area of pulling off cons. He can sit down at a poker table and build a small fortune by conning the other players...without them having a clue what's happening. He has to read each situation on the fly even if he plans a few things ahead of time. A con-job is never completely predictable.

How do these two people's paths cross? I won't give that away, because you'll find out by reading the gripping book itself. But for today's blog post, I do want to share a key phrase that Beano shares with the female protagonist on the course of the book's adventure:  Hold on by Letting Go.

What does this mean? Well, for a character like Victoria Hart it means a lot because she's not used to "holding on by letting go," but rather holding on by holding on. She plans, and controls, and plans, and controls so that what ensues in her life will be scripted and not fall out from under her feet. Does this work out for her? I guess so--in a way. She can certainly practice law and tackle cases very effectively.

She learn something interesting from Beano, however, about holding on by letting go. She learns that planning and organizing each detail isn't the only way to grab the reins of your life.

How many of us hold so tightly to the things that we want that we almost suffocate them instead of letting them grow unfettered? When Beano tells Victoria to "hold on by letting go," he's telling her that sometimes what you want in life can come naturally with a little more freedom and a little more wheeling and dealing. Of course, a con artist would have more skills in that area than a lawyer like Victoria.

When you let go, even just a little, you can see what adventures will unfold naturally without your constant scrutiny. Everyone's different, and some people allow more wheeling and dealing in life. What about you? Do you think a bit of letting go would be refreshing for your own challenges?

Life certainly isn't predictable, and it resembles a con-job in that way. Sometimes, we try to make it feel more predictable for ourselves so we don't have to face as much heart break, disappointment, and the chance of failure. There can come a time where you wonder, "Is this predictability worth it?" What comes at the price of predictability?

I guess Beano's advice can come in handy for not only con-jobs, but also life and health in general. Maybe once in a while, it's okay to hold on by letting go. Where do you feel like letting go a bit?

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