In Choose Growth, authors Kaufman and Feingold, expand upon Mazlow’s hierarchy of needs and put it into a boat. Mazlow never meant for his heirarchy to be represented by a pyramid, they write. When he originally described it he described life as a constant state of growth that is often a two-step-forward, one-step-back phenomenon.
Being able to focus on steering the boat, rather than constantly patching holes and bailing it out, is essential. Being able to steer the boat, and use the experience to grow our human condition, even more critical to our human journey of becoming.
We are born to evolve. And grow. And learn. And keep learning to evolve some more.
But, if we spend all our time plugging holes and bailing water, there’s little time to think about ‘what did that experience teach me?’. Or, “What can I do differently?” Or, “How can I use that experience to grow in my life?”
Years ago, trapped in a relationship that was killing me, the longer I stayed in that leaky boat, the faster I began to sink, until one day, fortunately just in time, I was pulled from the sinking vessel and given the miracle of getting my life back.
It was not a miracle I wanted to ignore or abuse or misuse. It was too important to me. Too valuable to waste or throw away. And, I told myself, that sinking boat… it wasn’t mine to begin with. It was built on his lies. And there was no truth in he who was The Lie.
Since that May day in 2003, I have focused on building a sturdy,healthy, strong boat for myself. At times, I have taken steps back from my two-steps-forward, but the stability of my boat provides me a sense of safety and connection I feel within myself and with those who love me and how I choose to live with intention, helps keep me and my boat afloat.
Nowadays, when harsh waters and crashing waves surround me, I don’t need to spend a lot of time bailing out my boat. I simply hunker down to weather the storm confident that the love, connection and belonging I have found will not be ripped from my sails and blown away by the howling winds.
Today, I’m willing to open my sails to the winds of life and steer my boat in the seas of growth and change, confident that by remaining open to all life’s experiences, whether I judge them ‘good’ or ‘bad’, by being vulnerable with my heart and soul, I will be free to explore all of me — the dark and light, the mysterious and known, the ups and downs and inside outs and outside ins, without getting pulled under by the riptide of despair or crashed against the rocks of shame.
It is fabulously joyful to sail my boat in this sea of life teeming with possibilities, hope, love, joy, happiness, mystery, wonder and awe.
It is fabulously nourishing to be surrounded by people who love and cherish me and whom I love and cherish.
And it is fabulously inspiring to have a life I cherish, a life that is a reflection of my deep belief that we are all born miracles of life, the divine expression of amazing grace, magnificent, beautiful and deeply needed in this world for the unique, creative expressions we bring to it, expressions and ways of being that will create the better we all want to create for everyone.
When we open our sails and allow ourselves to be truly seen and known, when we love every molecule and cell of ourselves, we are free to be our magnificent selves.
And isn’t that a fabulous way to be?