Old-time sailors would sometimes get the phrase “hold fast” tattooed across their fingers. It was a reminder to stay vigilant in gripping the rigging of the ship. Without grasping the ropes firmly, a sailor could get a ship off course, or be himself swept overboard by wind and wave.
In our own lives, we want to hold fast to our values and vision for who we are and where we’re going, even when hit with the storms of setbacks.
We often incorrectly (and unconsciously) think that our core principles are so obvious, so deeply held, that keeping our grip on them will happen without effort.
We think we can be spiritual without engaging in any related practices, stay focused on a philosophy without continually studying its insights, maintain good character without regularly revisiting what that means.
We think it’s one and done: “I’ve heard this idea before; it’s obvious; I’ve got it.”
In reality, without constant reminders, the ropes of our values slip out of our hands. Whatever is not intentionally kept at the forefront of our minds retreats to the back of them . . . where it ceases to inform our daily lives.
I need to go to church once a week to hear things I’ve heard a thousand times before, but have already, in the previous 6 days, started to let slip below my consciousness. I need to keep reading (and re-reading) personal development books, even though they often say the same things, or their insights invariably get buried in the urgency of everyday busyness.
To maintain our grip on the ropes of our values, we need reminders written not on our hands, but in the books we read, the habits we perform, and the hearts of those we love and befriend.