Hold Nothing Back

Simplifying life, camping in the snow, asking what it means to live. My March 18th Weekly Insights newsletter.

Vincent Van Patten
5 min readMar 18, 2022


El Capitan and Yosemite Falls. Photo by author

Last weekend, my best friends and I camped in the snow above California’s Yosemite Valley.

We buckled up our snowshoes and set out to build an igloo.

The granite face of El Capitan stared back from across the valley.

A tiny orange dot glimmered; the light from a climber, scaling the natural wonder.

We watched the water of Yosemite Falls leap from the opposite cliff into a bed of snow; Half Dome loomed in the distance amongst other precipitous peaks; snow covered the mountains and the ground beneath our feet.

The evergreen trees in the valley moved together to the tune of the wind, swaying as one.

From up in the sky, looking out over one of the most spectacular views I’ve ever witnessed, I read from my pocket edition of the Tao Te Ching:

CH 50
“The Master gives himself up
to whatever the moment brings.
He knows that he is going to die,
and he has nothing left to hold on to:
no illusions in his mind,
no resistances in his body.
He doesn’t think about his actions;
they flow from the core of his being.
He holds nothing back from life;
therefore he is ready for death,
as a man is ready for sleep
after a good day’s work.”

I focused on just this chapter, because when I read it I couldn’t let it go. I read it aloud to the squad several times over two days.

The passage felt harmonious with our setting, the experience we were having, and the season of life we’re in.

You might notice from the stories I wrote this week that I’ve been contemplating fear, and what it means to truly live.

There’s something about being out in the woods, exposed to the cold, raw, open arms of nature that simplifies life.



Vincent Van Patten

Exploring what lights my soul on fire ❤️‍🔥 Living in Japan. For my writing, podcast, photography and much more, check out vincentvanpatten.com