True change is hard to come by. Our lives carry along with them an immense amount of inertia. Even when times are difficult or we don’t enjoy our lives very much, the possibility of significant change seems to require the daunting task of overcoming that inertia. Whether we admit it to ourselves or not, we seem to prefer to keep our lives firmly circumscribed within our comfort zones of familiarity. There are so many ways to live, so many possibilities, yet our very human tendency is to effectively continue to live today the way we did yesterday, to live this year the way we did last year, even live this decade the way we did last decade. We tend to stick to the familiar largely because it feels safer. We continue along our current trajectory in life, even if that trajectory isn’t one along which we are finding a sense of joy or which serves a personally more meaningful purpose.
Seeds of Change
While bold leaps of faith over the chasm of change may not be within our capacities, it is crucially important to plant seeds of change in our lives and continue to water them. A seed of change is simply an affirmative step towards manifesting something. When we water those seeds and they sprout, it is a sign that we are on the right track. Should those sprouts continue to grow, just keep planting and watering. Eventually, if the change truly is right those seeds will grow into full-fledged manifestation. Change may still take effort on our parts, but we’ll find that there will be very little resistance.
I read Antoine de Saint Exupery’s “Wind, Sand and Stars” many years ago and remain touched by something he wrote. In the autobiographical story, he had crashed his airmail delivery plane in the Sahara desert and was faced with a long march toward questionable survival. “What saves a man is to take a step,” he wrote, “then another step. It is always the same step, but you have to take it.”
Planting and watering seeds of change in our lives are those critical steps, and it is precisely those steps that can save us.
As I’ve written previously (“Charting a New Course”), I’ve been having thoughts of changing my life up by perhaps buying and moving onto a sailboat. That vision is one of partnering with a boat to explore the world and as always my place in it. I realize now that I’m about 18 months into that potential transition and that change has been slow in coming. Even factoring in that I may be wrong, I still think the move may well be a worthy one, yet I find myself hesitating. The more I look at the hesitances that I have had, the more I can’t escape the realization that it’s simply a big leap and it takes time, awareness, and effort to shove off and set sail from my current dock of familiarity and comfort.
And so I water seeds, some small, some larger. Those seeds have included:
- Reading a literal shelf full of sailing books
- taking a week long sailing certification class to refresh my skills
- chartering a sailboat with friends for a chance to play captain and test my sailing confidence
- walking 2+0 miles of docks to study boats and chat with other sailors
- looking at 15+ sailboats for sale
- taking a “cruising boat buyer’s webinar.”
I’ve even gone so far as creating a “Sailing Dreams” playlist on Spotify that I am only allowing myself to listen to if and when I should someday get my own boat.
Seeds of change.
Most every step along the way, I’ve grown more and more interested in the possibilities yet, as for most all of us, change remains stubbornly hard to come by.
So what’s a person to do?
Nothing else but continue to plant seeds and water them, or as St. Exupery said, “then another step.”
And so I find myself on a bit of an adventure in the South China Sea, watering my sailing seeds by spending some time crewing on boats. My intention is to learn more, not just about the art and craft of sailing, but also about the life, perils, pitfalls, and responsibilities of a life on the sea. Most importantly perhaps, I just get to be on the water again and listen to how my soul responds. I recently spent an illuminating week as crew aboard a 42′ sailboat in Indonesia. In a few days, if all goes according to plan, I’ll be on another sailboat in the dreamy waters around the northern tip of the island of Borneo, learning more and experiencing more. The reality is that I may not end up choosing a life on the sea, but I intend to continue to water the seeds of possibility until they fully blossom or it becomes clear that it’s not quite the life for me.
Getting Between Ourselves and Our Dreams
It fascinates me how many of us accept our “lot in life.” Not only do we not effort to change, but we actually don’t even dream or envision a change if it is significant enough to cause disruption to our familiar way of living. I don’t say that to bemoan the incapacities of my fellow humans. It’s really a sympathy. It’s not easy being human, and resistance to change is very human territory.
The main thing that gets between us and the lives we truly wish to live is ourselves. I know there are hurdles, both societally systemic and personal that make manifesting change more challenging for many and I’m not trying to minimize that in any way. The change that we are practically allowed to dream about is very much societally circumscribed by race, gender, sexual orientation, age, appearance, etc. What I am trying to state, for myself primarily, is that the barrier between our dreams and their manifestation is also very much placed and kept there by ourselves. As much as we might kick and fidget otherwise, barriers are created by our fear of change, our fear of the unknown, and our attachments to the comfort of keeping things the way they are.
Shakespeare saw some of this resistance to change in us all when he wrote:
“And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprise of great pitch and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry
And lose the name of action.”
Stepping into change is daunting.Yet I also believe that this life is the only chance we have blessedly been given. We humans tend to inherently come with a deeply infused hesitance to change from whoever, whatever and wherever we may be. Not only that, but we have the virtually infallible capability to rationally justify not changing. Change is hard, I get it. I’m actually personally hesitating to do something that many people only dream about. But I don’t want to be a dreamer in my life. I want to be a person who manifests dreams.
So what potential change has lurked inside you? Is there something you’d love to do? Or is there some personal change you could make that you are confident would be beneficial or perhaps even life altering? What seeds might you plant that with tending could grow into meaningful change? Keep dreaming, keep growing, and keep watering the seeds of change.
I’ll do my best to do the same.