Maybe I hold on to things too long.

I’m staring at a copy of Webster’s New Practical Dictionary from 1951. Even in an age of Bing and Google, I find myself turning to these yellowed pages to answer my questions.

The dictionary belonged to my mother, who used it when she worked as a secretary at the Ames Trust and Savings Bank. Every blank page is filled with handwritten words a young Irene Kuhl had trouble spelling: occasion, shindig, reminiscence, Albuquerque.

You can bet this dictionary will still be on my desk when some family member is assigned the task of boxing up all my books and other sentimental stuff.

I hold on to ideas just as tightly. Whenever a creative thought pops into my head, I grab hold of it and don’t let go. It comes to bed with me at night and I wake up with it in the morning. I don’t let it out of my sight, tinkering throughout the day to make it better and better. Weeks go by as I coddle my precious concept, hugging it closer until it’s likely to suffocate.

I hang on to sad feelings too long as well. Last week, I watched my neighbor’s dog die in a tragic accident. Boo wasn’t my dog. In fact, I wasn’t particularly fond of him. Yet, several days later, I’m finding it difficult to eat my sandwich because I’m still thinking of the grief the girl next door is experiencing. The peanut butter gets stuck in my throat. Let go, Don, let go.

What’s wrong with me? I keep using an outdated dictionary. I can’t let creative ideas escape my brain, and sad feelings keep me from swallowing sandwiches.

Maybe I hold on to things too long. Or maybe I should look up the word “human” in Irene Kuhl’s yellowed dictionary.