Don't let anyone or anything hold you back
It seems positive. Perhaps it was written with positive intent. I certainly don't know the relationship between the speaker and the recipient of this message in its original form. But... really?
Just do what you want to do.
That's the heart of this message. Do what you want and let nothing and nobody hold you back.
Really? Like, really?
It takes just a cursory look at human beings to realize that we often want terrible things. We often crave things that are destructive to ourselves. We often want things that end up hurting others. We often seek after things that have little worth but terrible consequence.
The more I thought about this phrase and this idea—to let nothing hold you back—the more I saw the dark and sinister side to it.
The whole point of a conscience is to be held back from doing terrible things that we otherwise crave. The whole point of developing self-control is to be able to hold ourselves back from our worst tendencies. The whole point of parents is to hold their kids back—to hold toddlers back from running into the street; to hold school kids back from playing late when homework needs to be done; to hold teens back when they naturally want to rebel against the very boundaries that keep them safe.
Our families are supposed to hold us back from our worst impulses. Our friendships are supposed to hold us back from running amok with no emotional ties. Every emotional tie we make with other people holds us back. Every commitment we make holds us back from freedom to do whatever we want.
And thank goodness they do. People without restraints, without morality, without conscience, without ties to anyone—they do not do good things.
We live in a postmodern world in which it is often presumed that there is neither objective truth nor objective morality. There are messages everywhere that claim that customs, cultures, taboos, etc., they all shackle us and oppress us. Young adults often believe that tying themselves down to a single person will stop them from living the life they want. Many in the rising generation question whether having children is worth the constraints they will inevitably place on them.
The things and people that hold us back are bad and need to be cast off.
Well... I question that belief. Catch the Wind openly questions this belief. Here's Elizabeth, in emotional turmoil as she deals with the struggle between what she wants and what her teachers want. She confronts all the possibilities of who she can become, and one stands out:
- She saw a woman of power, a woman without a conscience haunting her, without teachers controlling her, without friends or family holding her back... She saw power that made the gods bow, that made the Faerie tremble, and made souls cry out for mercy. Nothing held this woman back. No memories, no empathy, and no constraints.
- Her mother's worries, fears, and pleas to be careful—they held her back. Wit's stories and scolding held her back. Everybody she cared for held her back. Her desire to help... held her back... they all held her back.
They held her back because she let them. Because they loved her and she loved them. Because without them, nothing was left that mattered. They did not hold her back from achieving her potential. They held her back from the edge of a cliff.
So I invite you all, as you read Catch the Wind, to think of those who hold you back. Those who have helped you turn away from your worst impulses, those who have helped you back away from a cliff. Think of all the times you were young and wanted to do something destructive, but you let the love of somebody else hold you back. Think of the times you knew how disappointed your parents would be if you did something and ended up avoiding a terrible catastrophe. Think of all the times your loyalty to someone kept you tied down and made you a better person.
We are supposed to be held back. And it's a lesson that I believe each rising generation needs to learn.