What are you clinging to that’s preventing you from reaching your next destination?
Last night I was winding down after serving at the Healing Center. I like TV shows about real events, especially history and biography shows. Recently I started watching I Shouldn’t be Alive. Survival shows are interesting because they reveal how people react under extreme conditions and there’s always some survival tidbit that might come in handy.
Last night’s episode was about a man forced to parachute into the ocean off the coast of Costa Rica when his skydiving plane lost control and started to tumble to earth.
He spent an entire day and night in shark-infested waters. In the pitch black night, the man could see lights on the shoreline in the distance. The man admitted he had no way of telling how far off they were but his only hope of survival was to swim toward them. As he swam he started to feel stinging and burning sensations all over is arms, legs and back. The pain was unbearable. He realized he’d swam into a school of jellyfish. Thinking he could swim through them, he continued in the direction of the lights. But each time he left one school, he encountered another. This went on for some time.
Finally, exhausted, dehydrated and disoriented, the man floated on his back expecting the inevitable. In the distance, he could vaguely make out a large object and, fearing the worst, he assumed he was about to be attacked by a shark. He braced himself. But as the object approached, he realized it was a large piece of driftwood.
He was overcome with joy. Not only could he rest on the wood, it somehow made him feel less alone to have another friendly object in the water with him. During the night, he passed out from exhaustion. He awoke the next morning, somehow still clinging to the wood.
As he evaluated his situation, in the distance he could see the shoreline. With a new sense of determination he started paddling the wood in the direction of the shoreline. He fantasized about landing on the beach and stumbling to the nearest beach-side bar for cold refreshment. But as the morning turned to afternoon, he realized he wasn’t making progress.
Each time he got near the beach, the driftwood was caught by an outgoing tide that pulled him back out to sea. This happened several times. Finally, the man realized he had to make a decision. He could remain with the driftwood and hope that someone would eventually find him in the vast ocean or he could let go of the wood and take the risk he would succumb to total exhaustion before reaching the beach.
He labored over the decision. Swimming away from the wood several times, only to return and cling to it’s safety once again. Finally, he convinced himself to swim from the log. As it disappeared behind the swells in the distance, he knew there was no turning back. His only chance of survival was to reach the beach.
Just when he thought he could swim no more, a group of local fishermen happened upon him and rescued him. The man was the only survivor from the crash of the small aircraft. He survived by shear determination and probably no small amount of Divine intervention.
But if he had not released that wood, those fishermen may have never seen him. He would’ve drifted to his death settling for the security of the wood rather than striking out for the shoreline in search of rescue or salvation.
I think we’re all guilty at times of clinging to the driftwood in our lives. There are things that have kept us comfortable. Their familiarity makes us feel safe and somehow less alone. We can see the shoreline in the distance but we are unwilling to take the risk of losing our comfort and security. We try to find a way to take the log with us but it just keeps dragging us back out to sea.
What are you clinging to? Old relationships, habits, careers, homes, cars, stuff? I want to encourage you to let go of those things. Swim toward the shoreline. There is more life on the shore than floating around in the ocean. To live a balanced life, sometimes you have to let go of the things that are dragging you down even if it seems scary.
For years, I was guilty of holding on to stuff. Computers, books, receipts, clothes. When we moved to Cincinnati, we brought boxes of stuff we had not touched in years. But for the last year, we’ve been on a mission to simplify our lives. In simple terms, my wife and I look at everything through the filter of last use. If we haven’t used something in more than a year, it’s a candidate to go. We’re determined to leave here with less stuff than we came. And each time we take a donation to our local charity, we feel liberated.
What do you need to let go of? How can you help someone else let go of their driftwood and head for their shore of hope and new opportunity?
I would love to hear your responses in the comments below.