Living in ongoing pursuit of a freedom that is unstoppable means that we need to confront and process our failings and shortcomings daily. As we get better at this it becomes very clear that these are the things that have the potential to cause the expression of our Infinite Self to come to a grinding halt. When we choose to walk the precipice of our personal boundaries in order to stretch them, we constantly find ourselves staring into the face of hurts that need healing, mindsets that need cleansing, habits that need breaking, and outlooks that need refocussing. In challenging ourselves to dismantle the barriers that inhibit our freedom, we also encounter skills that need developing. We took a family holiday a few years ago that showed me the importance of being able to laugh at yourself when you run into things that you don’t know how to do.
Alec loved the ocean and rivers and fishing and all things boating. He always said that he wanted a boat, and he took every opportunity he could to enjoy other people’s boats as frequently as possible. He was like a sponge for learning about anything to do with boats and fishing, but without a boat of our own to apply any new knowledge he acquired, he never really had the chance to improve. It is a wonderful thing to connect with others in sincerity and mutual regard, because they can take you to places you would never have gone to yourself. I enjoyed hanging off the coattails of Alec’s love of boating things, although I personally didn’t share his passion. With a hunger to know more, do more, be more, Alec suggested that we hire a boat and take it for a spin around Merrimbula Lake.
This was a great idea! What a great adventure! Even though I had not a single clue about how to operate a boat, Alec seemed to know what he was doing, so I jumped in with both feet. The weather was mild and the sun was shining and only a few light, fluffy clouds punctuated the otherwise crystal clear blue sky. Cruising around the lake with Alec and the kids was sheer joy. Even as I recount this memory, the bliss is reactivated. I know that times like this are where our heart is able to catch a glimpse of eternity.
Alec played like a child in that boat, twisting and turning and soaking up every thrill. He oozed appreciation of the feelings and sights and sounds and smells, so much so that his happiness was infectious. It was a perfectly wonderful time for all of us. After a while, Alec suggested that I take the reigns and steer for a while. I said flat out NO! at first, but with infectious enthusiasm, Alec continued to cajole and persuade, until finally I relented. As I grabbed onto the steering thingie that you can see there in the picture (yes, this is how little I know about boating), I realised instantly that I had bitten off more than I could chew. My response, as always, was to chew like hell.
When Alec was in control of our direction, he knew how to make us go where he wanted to go. When I was in control of our direction, things were a little different. I had no sense of speed or space, and no understanding of the reactions that my actions would cause. As a result, we were everywhere, and nowhere, all over that lake. I had no idea where we were going, but we were getting there fast. This itself was unnerving, but things soon took an out-of-control turn for the worst as my steering (or lack thereof) had us headed for a sign that said: “Oyster Farm. No Boats Allowed.” Everything in me wanted to comply with that sign. But my lack of steering prowess meant that I simply had no capacity to fulfil that desire. With absolute horror I watched myself steer our little tinny straight over that Oyster Farm, and there was not a thing I could do about it. Now, I love being cheeky and flirting with naughtiness, don’t get me wrong … I am inclined to bend the rules at times, but I simply loathe breaking them. I knew that I might cause damage to the oysters under the surface of the water, and that this damage could cost the oyster farmer his hard earned income. I was mortified. But the only thing we could do is laugh and get out of there as fast as we could.
This Oyster Farm moment really is the story of my life. It was scary to be in my own hands, when they lacked the skills and knowledge required to do the job properly. But without experience or the chance to ever have practiced this before, I could only do my beginner’s best. I need to stretch boundaries into freedom, but sometimes this results in mistakes and errors. Sometimes I do end up blundering through the chaos of inexperience, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I simply love exploring pathways into new knowledge. This outlook will always mean that I can embrace the familiarity of being outside my comfort zone. It is here, in the Oyster Farm of life, that our Infinite Self can extend grace and compassion to ourselves. We need this self love to navigate the landscape of the unknown. It is here that we can stretch out into a freedom that is unstoppable.