Recently I was on board a beautiful new boat with a friend. While the boat looked absolutely stunning from everything I could see, the owner told me it was time to pull it out of the water and see what unwanted debris was hanging on under the surface. As any boat enthusiast knows, this is about the time of year when owners pull their boats out of the water and check for those things that are not easily seen from the top. Over time, various forms of debris accumulate on the hull. Foreign particles and parasites attach themselves to the hull, hoping for a free ride, but creating increased resistance to the smooth flow of water and slowing down the boat itself.
We all experience this process of build-up, sometimes in ways that are slow and difficult to detect. Inaccurate beliefs, unhealthy assumptions, lack of faith, bad habits, succumbing to criticisms and feeling defeated may cause us to slow down and limit our effectiveness. We may even become numb to our original values, dreams and passions. A job loss, financial pressure, low self-esteem and feeling stuck can feel like barnacles on our hull that drag us down or stop us from moving forward.
“He who cannot endure the bad, will not live to see the good.” Jewish proverb
When my business ventures snowballed in failure a few years ago, I felt this vulnerable exposure. My protection, my safety, and my very identity had been stripped. I was forced to be seen for who I was, not what I had. Business, relationship, financial and health failures bring us to this point of weakness. And yet it is there that we have the freshest opportunities for new, invigorating growth. Embrace these times as opportunities for reflection, rest and meditation, confident that on the other side will be renewed strength.
Maybe it’s time for you to strip the boat. Put yourself in dry dock for a day or two and commit to removing all the debris that has accumulated on the hull of your life. Take a fresh look at where you are and where you are going. Hopefully you’ll uncover those old childlike dreams once again. The vulnerability of stripping down to the hull may feel threatening, but it’s not as threatening as continuing to drag along through life with the weight of unfulfilled dreams and the baggage of misdirected activity. I’ve shown up at the Abbey of Gethsemani a couple of times for just this purpose. Taking nothing but a blank notepad and my imagination, I’ve spent 3-4 days bathing in the clean atmosphere with no distractions other than the frequent bells announcing another service in the chapel.
Business, relationship, financial and health failures often bring us to a point where we feel dead in the water. And yet it is often in this forced cleansing process that we have the freshest opportunities for new, invigorating growth. Embrace these times as opportunities for reflection, rest and meditation, confident that on the other side will be renewed strength.
What “barnacles” are slowing you down right now?
What opportunities have you missed because of your slow speed?
How could you still capture that opportunity?