"Those that see life as a battle will never be short of wars to fight"

 

 

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The Man that Carried a Canoe

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There was man who carried a canoe on is back. It was quite heavy and cumbersome but that was who he was, he was a man that carried a canoe on his back. People were able to identify him by the fact he carried a canoe on his back. The only time he took it off was when he went to sleep. The moment he woke up he automatically strapped his canoe onto his back again and carried it around with him all day until it was time to sleep again.
This man was on a very long journey but he was steadfast and kept on going day after day all the while carrying his canoe on his back. He walked high and low and into the deepest densest jungle, sometimes finding a clearing to walk through but often having to slowly and painfully hack his way through the undergrowth all the while carrying his canoe on his back. It was REALLY hard work and very slow going. The canoe constantly got caught up and made life difficult. At times the ground sloped upwards and the jungle gave way to rocky mountainous terrain. Each time he kept going and climbed to the top taking a short time to stand there with his canoe on his back and look at the incredible view. He could see jungle and mountains as far as the eye could see in every direction.
But he kept on going until one day the jungle petered out and he stood, with his canoe still on his back, at the edge of a mighty desert that, like the jungle before, stretched as far as the eye could see.

What should he do?

(Scroll down when you’ve thought about it)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Answer - Drop the canoe and walk into the desert

He dropped the canoe but as he began to walk away from it and into the new territory of the desert he felt awkward and uneasy. Something was missing; he didn’t feel comfortable. He was used to carrying his canoe; it was who he was. He was the man that carried a canoe. He rushed back and picked up his canoe and went to set off but he kept sinking into the sand with the load he was carrying. Try as hard as he might he made little progress in the soft sand. He couldn’t continue as he always had.
So, he dropped the canoe again and he began to wonder why he had it in the first place. After all, it had been a very long time since that canoe had actually been any real use to him. He had become a man with a canoe without thinking. He was sleepwalking without ever questioning why he had it at all. He realised the journey into the desert was a big step and, if it was going to succeed, he could only take what was essential. So he took the time to sit down and go over his journey so far to see why he was carrying the canoe and whether he really needed it anymore.
Eventually he remembered that right at the beginning, many years previously, he was faced with water to cross and that he had made the canoe to get over the challenge he was faced with at that time. There may have been bridges or stepping stones out of his sight but he had chosen to make a canoe; that was his own personal solution.
He also realised that when he had left home at the start of his journey he didn’t have a canoe at all. He wasn’t a man with a canoe, he was simply a man. Knowing why he had the canoe and knowing that it was no longer needed, he felt much more able to put it down and went into the desert on his own with a spring in his step.

We are all carrying canoes that while useful once now burden us. Our canoes are in the form of beliefs we created when we were younger and the emotions that come with them. Examples include “I’m not good enough, “It’s not enough to just be, I have to be doing something or “I can’t relax or make mistakes” and so on. Our canoes may have seemed like the right solution to a situation when we were young but we didn’t understand the ramifications having such thoughts would have on our lives. Just because it felt appropriate then to think like that doesn’t mean it is healthy and appropriate to continue to carry these thoughts around now. The fact is that most of our stress comes from carrying these invisible canoes that cut us off from joy and love, especially love for ourselves.
We also risk identifying ourselves through our life story and the drama and suffering it caused us. If we are to be truly free and move towards who we really are we must put the past down. For some that may mean healing work to release issues or trapped emotions that have come from our experiences while others can let go more easily.

 

© Phil Grant unless otherwise attributed