I started walking on water. Let me explain.
For most of us, life is a boat trip. We sit confined in a small area with perfect strangers, wondering where in the social hierarchy we find ourselves. Psychologists call it social comparison. Meaning, in the event that our lifeboat capsizes, who can we afford to leave behind? Who must we save? I hope I get saved. Should I reach out to those I’ve deemed less important? How did I get in this boat in the first place? Does my life jacket look cool? I digress.
If we’re honest, we are constantly making these snap judgments. We celebrate our individualism, chanting mantras of “freedom!” and “don’t tread on me!” However, at which point does the identity that we have created through social comparison become worthless?
The truth is we can’t find our own value in comparison to others. We find our value by finding out who we really are, and what makes our hearts come alive. Life’s mysteries involve chasing magic, and unfortunately, constructing social hierarchies makes us chase the madness.
When I was a kid, my family—which consisted of my father, brother, me, and two bird dogs—would take a trip to Lake of the Woods in Ontario every summer. The fishing was incredible, the sun was hot, and it was the first and last time I got sunburn inside my nose from the light refracting off of the water. Our cabin came with a small john boat. The boat had a 35 horsepower motor that was sufficient enough to transport my “all-boys” family through the lakes. To a young man like me, that boat meant freedom. It was my ticket to adventure, solace, peace, and a lifelong passion in the sport of fishing. There was a problem, however: we had only one boat, and that meant others would be a part of my adventures.
That little boat taught me a lot…more about loving people and the importance of friendship than any other experience I’ve ever encountered.
You see, there were no strangers in my boat, just people I loved, trusted, and enjoyed sharing life with.
I never compared myself to those other men; I just appreciated the scenery and experience that we got to share with one another. I caught a ton of fish and even more laughs, and strengthened bonds and friendships that I continue to cherish to this day. I am glad to have had these memories for so many years. Because of them I treat every interaction as if I am sitting in that little john boat, soaking up the adventure.
Life hasn’t changed in all these years. I am still wild at heart; I am still in that little john boat, the scenery just keeps changing. I’m not going to worry about who to keep or who to release. I just want to enjoy the ride. Time is too short for social comparison.
So in all the boats I sit in, I’m starting conversations with everyone in them. A simple “How are ya?” and “I can relate” has made my trips worthwhile.
It turns out everyone in these boats just wants to connect and trade stories. Isn’t that what makes us human, anyway? And after we trade stories with one another, I say farewell, then jump out to find another boat filled with interesting people to talk to. But something happens: I no longer sink with exhaustion from trying to figure out my place in the boat.
I “walk” on the water… Come on in, the water’s great!
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