Driving a Boat – A Practice in Aparigraha

nh-lake“You’re going to drive the boat,” she said to me, before I even made the trip up to New Hampshire. Did she even know that I had a huge fear of boats? That I was not a boat person?

It did not matter.

Two years ago at the last Lift Up that I attended, after crying and spilling out my thoughts on all sorts of things for an hour, her message was simple, “You need to get your license.”

Yes, I got my driver’s license two years ago when I was 31 years old. There was so much wrapped up in that story, and the freedom she gave me with that push has been pure magic.

And so I can’t say I was actually surprised to hear her words.

“Are you going to come home next year flying a plane?” Jon asked me. We laughed.

***

The morning I left for New Hampshire I was full of anxiety. It was coming full circle. Two years ago I was on the verge of getting my license, and here I was now preparing for a solo seven hour road trip. It felt big to me, yet I knew I could do it.

A few days before I’d been on a boat for the first time in over a decade and I did.not.like.it. Not even a little. Even though I was with close friends, and Chloe was by my side reassuring me. So this idea of me driving a boat still seemed quite impossible.

So much seems impossible before we prove to ourselves that we can do it.

***

I arrived at the lake house and circled with some of the bravest, strongest women I know. We did the hard work of holding space for each other and of allowing ourselves to speak our truth. We talked a lot of the things we need to talk about that we don’t. We gave ourselves permission to feel less alone.

***

on-the-waterOn the final morning, the water was perfectly still and there did not seem to be any boats on the water. This was in deep contrast to a few weeks before, choppy water and boats everywhere you looked.

We got in the boat and I felt calm.

She couldn’t get the boat started and I offered to try. I got it on my first attempt, and we were off.

We cruised through the water, taking in the mountains, the trees beginning to change their leaves from green to orange, and the various houses we saw along the way.

We came to a no wake zone and she said, “This is where we teach people how to drive the boat.”

And she taught me. And I did it. And it was wonderful.

It was a reminder to me of the stories that we build up so much they become the myths that we live our lives by, they become how we label ourselves (I am not a boat person).

***

When we stepped back onto land, I found that I felt more grounded than I have in a long while. And it was in this moment that I learned a new story about myself: Water grounds me.

***

Our stories are forever changing, yet sometimes we cling to the old drafts as if they are written in stone and can never be changed. Shifting this is the work of aparigraha.

In The Yamas and Niyamas, Deborah Adele writes,

“Anything we cling to creates a maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because they are “free,” all take up space and demand our attention. Storage boxes and sheds become an easy way to fool ourselves. Subtle attachments come in the form of our images and beliefs about ourselves, about how life should be, about how others should be. These images keep us in bondage to our own learning and growth. Clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing life wants to bring us.”

Can we let go of the clinging to the stories that block our freedom?

Can we honor the stories and then release them and in doing so create more space for who we are becoming?

***

driving-the-boatI drove almost 800 miles by myself. I drove a boat. I discovered that old stories were just that – stories and not truth, and I discovered new stories about myself that I will do my best not to cling to, knowing that they too are ever changing.

When we practice aparigraha, nonpossessiveness, we give ourselves the space to stretch out, to see the possibility within us, and to trust that we get to write what comes next.

With Love and Gratitude,

Xandra

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