We’re all travelling down the river that is life in our own boat. (If you read this post a few weeks ago you’ll see that I seem to like the “life in a boat” metaphor at the moment, much more than I like actual boats) We have times of smooth sailing, times where things are rockier and I’m sure we can all bring to mind times where we’ve had to cling on for dear life going through rapids and white waters.
I want you to imagine yourself in your little boat right now. You’re using all your energy to row to get where you want to go. You’re busy maintaining your vessel as best you can along the way. Now, here’s the big question, and you need to be honest with yourself here, who else is in your boat?
If you have friends, family members, partners, colleagues or anyone other than your own children (that are still children) or pets in your boat, it’s time to kick them out.
I know you think that you are doing them a favour, letting them hitchhike up stream under your steam, but you’re not. They deserve their own boat. They deserve to take responsibility for their own course, to make their own decisions, to have their own glories and disasters. They won’t go on their own accord – why would they? Firstly it’s much easier to be in someone else’s boat, they do all the work and you can sit back and catch some rays. Secondly, they don’t know they are in your boat, you put them there, they are not stowaways. Also, it’s only a metaphorical boat.
I’m not suggesting you should file for divorce, disown all your friends and never see your family again, unless you catch them drilling holes in the stern (ooh err missus!). Your loved ones can travel along the river beside you, as long as it heads in the direction you both want to go in, but they should be next to you under their own steam.
Maybe even more importantly than your loved ones deserving their own boats, YOU deserve to have your boat to yourself too. You deserve to take responsibility for your own course, your own decisions, your own glories and disasters. Having someone else tagging along in the back of your boat takes this away from you. I know, when put like that it’s hardly surprising you’ve kept them there this long. It’s very handy to have someone to point at to explain why you couldn’t/ haven’t/ can’t go your own way.
Here’s one thing I can promise you, putting people in their own boat will improve your relationship with them, whatever that may be. It is joyful to share the ups and downs with people when you are not holding yourself accountable for keeping them a float or letting them be the reason you tell yourself you’re not where you want to be.