A story is told of a man leaving the safety and comfort of his home to embark on a long journey. His travels will take him through a dark and dense forest; lush, beautiful, and fraught with peril. As the man begins his journey he only notices the spongy carpet of moss and pine needles beneath his feet. His eyes are delighted by the dappled sunlight that caresses his shoulders and warms his face. He smells only pine, flowers and rich earth. He feels the secure embrace of the forest all around him and he begins to enjoy the road.
Soon his ears detect the sound of other travelers and he delights with the prospect of meeting other people along his way. He slows his step to give the others a chance to catch up; anxious for the company. As the voices of his companions draw nearer he discovers; they are not other travelers. They are bandits who have lain in wait for an unfortunate passerby. They begin to crowd in on him and fall apon his innosence and good nature. Before he is overwhelmed, the man finds the strength and will to fight back and flee his attackers. As he plunges headlong into the forest; now only dark and forboding. He comes up on a large body of water blocking his escape. He has put great distance between himself and the bandits as he is one man, moving swiftly and caring only for survival. This body of water stands as a barrior to his freedom and his flight insticnts devise a plan. Working quickly he fells a few of the trees all around him and fashions himself a boat. It is a small craft, but heavy and sturdy enough to hold him and cross the great waters. Paddling with all his might he escapes across the water and leaves his attackers behind him.
On the opposite shore, the man breathes a little easier as he notes the vast barrior between he and the pursuers. However, he must now walk deeper into what he knows is a dangerous forest fraught with peril and the possibility of attack. As the man raises enough courage in his heart to keep going, he glances down at the valiant and useful boat beside him and asks himself. "Should I carry the boat with me? It has saved and assisted me in the past. It could be useful in the future if I am fallen upon by more bandits. If I carry the boat I will be prepared for the next attack. Should I carry the boat?"
Our lives are like the man and his boat. Just when we begin to believe we are safe reality will pursue and remind us that we do not live in the enchanted forest. Despite this truth; Should we carry the boat?
Did our experiences in the dark forest give us the knowledge, strength, and skills we need to forge ahead. If the need once again arises; Can we build another boat? Does clinging to our past, no matter how useful it was, slow and weigh us down? Will our progress be hindered if we carry the past along instead of acknowledging and being grateful for its assistance? Should we carry the boat?
Often we cling to what worked before because it feels safe, and our past experiences teach us that the boat is the answer. The truth is; it was never the boat. It was the strength, faith, courage, and skill that the man employed to build the boat that saved him. If you are carrying your boat...set it down. You are strong, wise, and prepared for whatever comes next. Don't let the past weigh you down and hold you back. Let go of the boat. Forage ahead. Live your life.