On Canoes and Death

There was a man who was a part of a nomadic tribe. His tribe’s main route of travel was through waterways. One day he was paddling in a canoe with a few members of his tribe. This canoe was a part of a fleet of other tribe members.

The day was like any other day, as he and his fleet paddled across the ocean. Then, out of the blue, a rogue wave struck his small canoe, capsizing it. The strength of the wave was enough to leave his small crew clamoring for safety. He tried to save his fellow tribe members. He reached for them, but their fear and panic would pull him down, causing him to begin drowning himself. Try as he may, he kept loosing tribe members to the sea, until he was the only one left.

Now alone, he held tight to the capsized canoe for five days. As the days passed, an intense series of emotions flooded his mind. He felt sadness and guilt at loosing his tribe members. They were the ones who knew him and helped raise him and in the end, he could not save them. Then a sense of abandonment came over him. Why didn’t canoes  from the fleet come back for him?  Then he was angry at the Creator. Why did the Creator abandon him? Then the feeling of separation and isolation from his community came over him. He couldn’t help but think that it would have been easier for him not to care or feel connected to this community. If that was the case, he wouldn’t be feeling that pain of abandonment, betrayal, and loss that consumed him throughout his last days. Ultimately he died. Living his last days alone and clinging to a canoe that could no longer save him.

This is a story that someone told me last week.

I know this story inside me and it’s symbology and relevance speaks to the process that has been the theme of this blog. The process being: The pain that comes with parts of me dying so that I can let go of the people, beliefs, and thought patterns that no longer serve me. Through this process I have felt these very things. Betrayal. anger, guilt, sadness, wishing I didn’t connect in the first place, and so on.

Symbolically, the boat is representative of my family. They raised me and provided the basic needs for my survival. However, as they handed to me what I need to survive, they also handed me their own fears, limitations, and misconceptions. It’s what I’ve heard referred to as gifts and baggage. It’s hard to tease out the gifts and baggage. Sometimes what looks like a gift is really baggage, and vice-versa. It’s the paradox I’m learning to live in. It’s the big “AND”.

In order to come into my authentic life, I can keep the gifts close to my heart. Like a talisman in my Shero’s journey. I also need to let go of the baggage in order to make room for my authentic self to grow in. My authentic self feels like a dormant seed, covered by layers of misconceptions. And as each layer is acknowledged and integrated, I reconnect to my genuine core self. What I find interesting, is that in reconnecting to my authentic self, I become more aware that I am interconnected with the life around me. All life. With each step towards reconnection, I have a deeper awareness of “there is only one of us here” and that nothing ever dies because death is but a phase of life.

A few days later, I realized another layer to the story. I remembered the argument with my dad just days earlier, and it sank in deeper that I cannot save my family. That it sucks and feels like betrayal, but in order to heal, I cannot keep trying to save them because when I do, I get dragged down with them. Although my head understands, it’s still hard to understand it in my heart.


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