Hold Your Pen Loosely


Strangely angled, I saw my hand holding the pen uncomfortably. Not exactly what I was going for at 5 AM – I wanted a meditative experience, putting pen to page the old-fashioned way. I shifted the Florentine journal into my lap, yet still the discomfort continued. A different pen, different paper, or even a different place might change something, but I knew that wasn’t the problem. Curious, I wondered what it would be like to write with a relaxed hand, consciously surrendering. Just imagining feeling unattached to pen, paper, book, and even ideas, the shift happened naturally. Held loosely, the pen and its ink flowed, smooth lines now mirroring my good feelings. This is what I was seeking. 

It felt as if the channels opened easily to larger thought, unobstructed by human resistance. I could feel the channel from head to heart through body, hand and pen aligning, ready to allow the message to come through. It reminded me of a combination lock at the moment the right numbers have been dialed. All the slots line up, and a door opens into a new space holding unknown treasure. 

This was the first time I was consciously aware of creating the space for a transmission. A reflection on how to loosely hold the pen -- of life -- began to emerge.   How often do we hold tightly to something we’re creating, attached to how good it will be or is not yet? Isn’t the creative process a mystery unto itself? 

I had a vision of a clenched hand, its fear squeezing the life out of a natural flow of ideas. Ironically, flow cannot be constricted, no matter how we try. It can only be allowed and guided. The discomfort is in ourselves, because we’re making ourselves suffer through the illusion of control. 

Our fear is what keeps us out of creative passion. A fear of so many things: judgment, failure, and success … of looking silly, of not knowing. Much of the time, we fear coming face to face with our vulnerability and weaknesses, the places where we believe we don’t measure up. 
We might be afraid others will find out we’re nothing more than an imposter, just pretending to be a high achiever who knows a lot. Behind that fear is the terror of realizing we’re as bad as we feared we. It rises up and we grasp onto anything – to make sure the real us doesn’t escape. We’re mostly afraid of our judgment of ourselves, the painful voice of self-reproach that can take over even the most self-aware. 

Unconsciously, we think we will produce a better outcome if we hold tight to it. Instead, we have put up a resistant dam that constricts the flow of our performance, of our message. Eventually the dam breaks because the need to express becomes stronger than the barrier we’ve created. It has become more uncomfortable to hold back than to face the fear of exposure. This is when we realize we must do something differently. 

We can find power in choosing a different way of being with our creative expression. Rather than pushing and striving, we can focus with flexibility, remaining present and aware of what happens moment by moment. This is true whether we’re writing, leading, or performing. Even intense athletic performance is creative because the body, mind, and Spirit are moving as one to create a new outcome, a result of years of practice and desire. 

Holding the metaphoric pen of life more loosely, we allow more good feelings than anxiety. Curiosity and trust begin to trump uncertainty as we practice non-resistance. It can be a symbol of surrender to the innate wisdom of Life, wherein we embrace the unknown, instead of resisting the inevitability of change. Our life performance then becomes a true expression of our unhindered potential, and we can find joy in all that we do.

Katie Peuvrelle