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  • Writer's pictureJeremiah Ritchie

The Other Side of the Boat

Updated: Dec 21, 2022

Our family has enjoyed kayaking for many years. We started kayaking together in a Jackson Kayak Big Tuna. It was a 14' long sit-on-top fishing kayak, perfect for a larger guy like myself who likes to be on the water but not in it, and it fit two grown adults and two small children. At least for a while. Those children are not so small now, so we got them their own kayaks last fall. Our challenge was transporting four kayaks in our 4X8 utility trailer. Fortunely the kids' kayaks, with a bit of force, fit in the bottom while our other two boats ride on top. It was annoying and not the best way to treat the boats, but it got the job done. Again and again, that's how we put the boats in the trailer.

It's easy to just settle for a solution because it works. We're getting the result we want or expect, and we're satisfied with the solution. Or maybe we're not satisfied and it gnaws at us that things could be different...better. We've tried again and again to change, to make progress, but each time has led to the same result. Ultimately we become resigned to the way things are. We'd like to be healthier, but the diets and exercise just never seem to work. We love writing poems, covering canvas in an array of color, or catching the light just right to create a beautiful image. But we keep those creations hidden because we fear other people won't love our work. We can't risk the rejection. Or perhaps you love telling stories with a punchline. You watch some of your favorite comics today like Birbiglia, Tomlinson, Mulaney, or Gulman and think, "I'd love to do that, to hone my craft, to make others laugh, to own the room." But public speaking makes your legs weak, your tongue thick, and you stay silent.

We're like the fishermen who spent all night casting nets off one side of the boat without catching a thing. Over and over they cast their nets, pulled them in wet and empty, and cast them back out again. We become rooted in ways of being and doing, even when they aren't ideal, aren't helpful, or are harmful to the person we want to be and the life we want to live. We lose hope. We lose our imagination. We lose are desire to try something new. We settle for good enough and write things off as just the way they are. We give up on the magic and settle for the cheap illusion we call our lives.

But there's a better way to live. We had been putting our kayaks in the bottom of our trailer a certain way, at angles the made them fit but also made it a chore to get them in. Then one day our 13 year old son says, as if he'd known the solution the whole time but hadn't spoken up, "Have you tried putting them in this way?" We turned one boat to slide in on top of the other one at a 45-degree angle and it was so easy we've been doing it that way since. What did Jesus tell the disciples? Cast your nets on the other side of the boat.

No miracles.

No 28-step plan.

No blind leap of faith.

The old cliche is true - what got you here won't get you there. What brought you here may have even worked for a while, but now it's keeping you from the change, growth, and transformation you desire. The old ways may have kept you safe, kept vulnerability at bay, or kept you from failure. But what once kept you safe is no longer working for you, it's working against you.

Try a different angle.

Cast your nets on the other side of the boat.

Have you kept your work hidden? Share it with everyone. Have you tried to go it alone? Ask for help. Playing it safe in your friendships or marriage? Tell them the truth of how you feel about them, how important they are, or maybe just let go. Have you settled for good enough? Abandon it for the possibility achieving what you've always wanted.

Do something different today and see what happens.

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