When I was a kid the world felt insurmountable. Problems and obstacles were gigantic and I didn’t “think” I had the tools to take things on.
My obstacles to happiness were analogous to a body of water, standing on the beach looking out over the ocean, no boat, couldn’t swim, and inadequately supplied to even know where to begin. Oh, by the way, it was an island.
I at least started to deal with my fear of the water. How it felt and the deep, deep fear that it would kill me. Eventually I would learn how to swim.
There were also times that I figured it would be best to just chill on the island and not get my hopes up that I’d ever escape.
“It’s not so bad”, I’d tell myself “I have all I need here. I’ll just eat coconut for the rest of my life.”
But that didn’t ever last for long. I knew there was more, more out there in the world. I’d had dreams that woke something up in me. So much was missing from my life and part of me yearned for it.
I finally started chopping down some trees. They were everywhere around the island. This was quite a task with only the modest tools I had but I learned. It took time and commitment.
Sometimes I’d get lazy and daydream my day away wishing I had lots of money so I could just buy a boat. “There’s got to be an easier way”, I told myself, eventually realizing again that there wasn’t and that I’d have to do the work to make it happen.
I finally made a raft and set out to find my way, determined to solve the problem that was in front of me.
As time went on the bodies of water became smaller, like lakes and then ponds and then even smaller like swimming pools. For the most part, I was no longer living in the land of lakes. They’re not as often anymore either. I learned to swim fairly well after taking some swimming lessens.
I’m not going to lie, there were also times when I’d get drunk and stumble in the dark of the night. Falling into the kiddie pool in the back yard cussing and asking, “Who put that there?” My clothes ending up all soaking wet, angry, and indignant for what the world had done to me. What a fucking mess I was… and still can be!
I learned that there would always be bodies of water to work my way around or through. Many of them in my life were simply mud puddles after a storm. I can navigate mud puddles pretty well. Water in the gutter on a rainy day is simply how the world works.
Sometimes I jump over, or I stomp my way through, and sometimes I put on rubber boots, raincoat, and umbrella and have a nice quiet walk through it all. I’m equipped now with gear to weather the storms.
But they come, they do come, the problems and obstacles, and sometimes they’re deeper than I’d like. I fall down, I get wet and dirty. It’s a certainty in life.
Another awakening I had was that I was actually isolating myself when I found myself on islands again and again. I often had help and opportunities all around me when I finally had the eyes to see and the ears to hear.
I’m still trying hard and preparing myself for what comes for all us in life, the ultimate body of water, what David Whyte calls, the well of grief.
What opportunities do you have that you’re not seeing?
What is your method for finding solutions to your obstacles?
What causes you to give up on what you want?
What motivates you to grow and do better?