How To Walk On Water

How To Walk On Water

This past Sunday I was relaxing at the water’s edge of a local beach when a young boy ran full speed right by me and into the shallow surf.  He continuously hopped up and down as he was running forward, kicking his little legs in the air and across the surface of the water before inevitably falling face-first into the waves.  He got back up and repeated this act several times, each time with more determination than the previous attempt.  It became obvious that he was trying to run across the surface of the water.  I couldn’t help but to laugh.  His combined levels of determination and exertion were priceless.

After several attempts, he noticed my laughter and walked over to me.  “What’s so funny?” he asked.

“You remind me of me, and it makes me smile.” I said.

“Do you know how to walk on water?” he asked. “Like a superhero?”

“Well, I think I can help you out.” I said. “Let me give you a few pointers.”

Curious, the boy sat down on the sand next to me.  His mother scurried over, worried… but I reassured her that her son wasn’t bothering me.  Relieved, perhaps, to have her son sitting safely on the sand instead of flying face-first through the air, she went back to her beach chair 20 feet away and continued a conversation with another lady.

“So, you want to walk on water, eh?” I asked.  He nodded his head anxiously.

A Rough Summary of What I Told Him

  1. Make sure you were born to walk on water. – You must follow your heart, and be who you were born to be.  Some of us were born to be musicians… to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar.  Some of us were born to be poets… to touch people’s hearts with exquisite prose.  Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs… to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish.  And still, some of us were born to walk on water… to invent the capability of doing so.  If you’re going to walk on water, you better feel it in every fiber of your being.  You better be born to do it!
  2. Decide that nothing can stop you. – Being born to walk on water isn’t enough by itself.  We must each decide to accept our calling.  Unfortunately, most of us make excuses instead.  “But I might drown trying,” we say.  Or, “But I have a family to think about first.”  Walking on water, or doing anything that hasn’t been done before, requires absolute, unconditional dedication.  The only person who can control your level of dedication is you.  If you’re serious about walking on water, you must decide that nothing… not gravity, not a group of naysayers, NOTHING… can stop you!
  3. Work on it for real. – While many of us decide at some point during the course of our lives that we want to answer our calling… to accomplish our own version of walking on water, only an astute few of us actually work on it.  By “working on it”, I mean truly devoting oneself to the end result.  The rest of us never act on our decision.  Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired, half-ass effort.  But to truly walk on water, you’ll have to study physics, rheology, hydrophobic substances, etc… and then you’ll have to define and redefine next-generation theories and complex hypotheses, which must be tested relentlessly.  When the tests fail, you must be ready to edit your theories and test them again.  This kind of work, the real kind, is precisely what enables us to make the impossible possible.
  4. Let the whole world know what you’re up to. – When you’re trying to walk on water, or do anything that nobody else has done before, life can get lonely pretty quickly.  To keep your motivation thriving, it’s important to let others know that you’re attempting to defeat the formerly impossible.  Don’t be shy!  Let the whole world know that you’re trying to walk on water.  No doubt, it’ll place a bit of extra pressure on your back, and you’ll almost certainly hear some laughter in the crowd.  But this kind of pressure fuels motivation, which is exactly what you’ll need to accomplish such a colossal undertaking.  And when you finally do succeed, the last bit of laughter heard will be your own.
  5. Value the people who value your ambitions. – When most people hear about your “mission impossible” aspirations, their natural reaction may be to roll their eyes, call you crazy, and tell you to quit being foolish.  But fortunately, the world is also inhabited by pioneers and believers who see the value in your dreams.  These people understand that achieving the formerly impossible is one of the greatest gifts human beings possess.  They’ll likely give you tips, bits of assistance, and the extra push you need to succeed.  These are extraordinary people, and you’ll want to surround yourself with them, because they will ultimately assist you over the hurdles and across the surface of the water.  Think of them as an influential, personal support team.  Without them, walking on water will be a far more difficult feat, if not completely impossible.
  6. Ignore the negative naysayers. – No matter how much progress you make, there will always be the people who insist that walking on water is impossible, simply because it hasn’t been done before.  Or they may incessantly suggest that the idea as a whole is utterly ridiculous because nobody really cares about walking on water anyways.  When you come across these people, don’t try to reason with them.  Instead, forget that they exist.  They will only waste your time and energy.
  7. Prepare yourself for the pain. – Even though you’re no longer mindlessly running face-first into the oncoming ocean surf, but instead forming complex theories based on the studies of rheology and fluid viscosity, it doesn’t mean you won’t experience your fair share of pain.  You’re in the business of walking on water, of doing something that has never been done before.  You’ll likely get a waterlogged, lungful of water on a regular basis.  But the pain will seem like a small price to pay when you become the first person to jog across the rapids of the Mississippi.
  8. Enjoy the pain of your greatest challenge. –  Superheroes aren’t real.  In real life nobody has ever walked on water.  But lots of people have achieved formerly impossible feats, and continue to enjoy the possibilities of new challenges.  These people will all tell you there’s nothing more gratifying than the thrill of your greatest challenge.  The inherent pains along the way are simply mile markers on your trip to the finish line.  When you finally do finish, you may actually find yourself missing the daily grind.  Ultimately, you’ll realize that pleasure and pain can be one and the same.
  9. Never give up!  Never quit! – The reason nobody has walked on water isn’t because people haven’t tried.  Remember, you just tried several times in a row, and I’m sure many others have too.  The reason nobody has succeeded is, simply, that within the scope of modern science and physics, it’s currently impossible.  But this doesn’t mean that with your help it won’t become possible in the future.  If you were born to do it and truly dedicate yourself to the end result, anything, including walking on water, is entirely possible!

Just a Chance

When we were done talking, the young boy got up and ran back over to his mother.  He pointed over to me and I smiled and waved back.  Then he said to her, “Mommy, mommy!  That guy just taught me how to walk on water!”

A few moments later she walked over to scold me for supposedly giving out reckless advice.  She told me I was giving her son a false sense of hope.  I told her all I was giving him was a chance.

Photo by: Murilo

Why Everyone Likely Agrees on the Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

Katie, a close friend of the family, is just 21 and already publicly out of the closet.  “I am deeply attracted to women.  I’m a lesbian,” she admits openly.  She has been involved in two long-term, intimate relationships in the last three years.  Both relationships were with women her age.  When I asked her why she lives this lifestyle, she said, “Because I feel like myself, completely alive, when I’m with another woman.  I can’t feel this way when I’m with a man.”

Ryan, one of my grade school buddies, is now a Roman Catholic priest.  He has chosen to follow a life of abstinence, instead devoting himself wholeheartedly to God and the principles of his faith.  When I asked him why he chose to follow this path, he said, “Because I find peace and abundance through my faith.  It keeps me connected and allows me to make a difference.”

Another friend, Courtney, an amateur bodybuilding competitor, is addicted to working out.  “I can’t go a day without it,” she says.  So she enters to the gym every morning at 5AM, performs a solid hour of weight training, and follows it up with another hour of cardio before heading off to work.  When I asked her why she partakes in such a rigorous workout routine, she said, “Working out makes me feel alive, energized and at peace.  It’s a way of life.”

A fourth friend, Antony, is a remarkable chef.  He currently works at a fine Italian restaurant, but plans to open his own café in the near future.  Antony struggles with an obvious vice; he enjoys eating as much as he enjoys cooking.  His doctor recently told him he is nearly 60 pounds overweight.  When I asked him why he isn’t more concerned with his weight as it relates to his health, he said, “When I cook, I feel free… free to be human, free to be creative, free to be me.  When I eat what I cook, I experience the fruits of my labor.  There’s nothing more satisfying than that.”

How fascinating.  Human beings draw on sexuality, faith, exercise, and cooking to achieve the same thing, a feeling of being alive, free, connected, self-fulfilled and at peace.

The Meaning of Life

Personal development gurus, psychologists, politicians, philosophers, bloggers and various members of my social circle have frequently concluded that the future of humankind as a whole is in jeopardy because we all pursue life’s meaning in fundamentally incompatible ways.  I firmly oppose this conclusion.

Life’s meaning, in my experience, is about the feeling of being alive, free, connected, self-fulfilled and at peace.  Whether we use sexuality, faith, exercise, or cooking as the means to attain this experience, we’re all in pursuit of the same thing.

Human Beings Overshadow Their Labels

When I asked my lesbian friend if she could relate to a Catholic priest, she said no.  And when I asked my exercise-obsessed, athletic friend if she could relate to a chubby, Italian chef with no desire to maintain a healthy bodyweight, she said no.  In both cases, I wasn’t surprised with their answers.

I then conducted a little social experiment:  I invited all four friends over for drinks at my condo this past Friday evening without informing them that the others were coming.  The outcome was rather insightful.

When they transcended their informal labels (e.g. lesbian, priest, athlete, and chubby chef), and instead became real, live human beings occupying the same room together (e.g. Katie, Ryan, Courtney, and Antony), they all discovered powerful similarities among themselves as human beings that vastly overshadowed the vague differences they experienced as informal labels.

A Universal Struggle

I believe the worst thing we can do as human beings is to interpret our own pursuit of life’s meaning as fundamentally incompatible and dissimilar from the pursuits of others.  Our basic pursuits in life aren’t that different.  Thus, labeling them as different only isolates us from each other, which ultimately stifles the progress we can achieve together as a whole.

The best thing we can do is to accept the fact that labels mean nothing, and realize that the seemingly nonsensical choices of others actually do make a lot of sense if we have the patience and fortitude to uncover the reasons behind these choices.  In doing so, we will likely expose the same universal struggle that drives our own pursuit:  To feel alive, free, connected, self-fulfilled and at peace.

Photo by: J. Philipson

The Tools of The Mighty

The Mighty Know How to Use Tools 

We shape our tools and afterwards our tools shape us.
– Marshall McLuhan

Last weekend Angel and I attended a show at a local comedy club.  During the last skit of the night, the comedian on stage delivered a fairly humorous rant on the age-old dispute of whether the pen is mightier than the sword.  “Some people think too much,” he said as he pulled out an imaginary sword from an imaginary holster.  “If you’re really dumb enough to think the pen is mightier than the sword, go ahead and arm yourself with a pen and I’ll take my chances with this sword… then we’ll see who’s left standing in ten seconds.”

His antics were hilarious, so naturally I chuckled.  All of a sudden, he pointed directly at me in the third row and said, “Hey son, do you think I’m a funny man?  You look like a pen-pushing, desk jockey!  Get out your pen!  Wanna fight?”

I was a bit startled.  This was the first time I’d ever been called out and put on the spot in front of a large audience at a comedy club.  The audience laughed and then silence swept over the auditorium.  Everyone waited for me to either cower in my chair or stand up to the challenge.  I stood up and spotlight shined down on me.

“Actually funny man, yes I do have a pen,” I said, pulling a fountain pen from my jeans pocket and holding it up for all to see.  “However, I don’t intend to physically fight you with this pen.  Instead, I’ll use the pen to sign a fat check that entitles me to a bazooka which I’ll use to blow your funny rear end right off that stage.”

The audience roared.  The comedian groaned and said, “You little punk, I’ll use my sword and my cat-like reflexes to cut you, your check, and that pretty girl next to you in half before you can even blink an eye!”  He looked at Angel who was sitting next to me and gave her a dirty wink.

The audience laughed again.  I smirked and waved my empty hand around in the air noting that the comedian was, in fact, waving an imaginary sword at me.  “I feel quite certain that your sword is incapable of doing any damage to anyone or anything,” I said.

Another short round of laughter escaped from the audience and I sat back down.  The comedian made a few more foolish comments and moved on with the remainder of his routine.  But I don’t really recall anything else he said or did.  I started thinking about the ease with which so many people use rhetoric to mislead and deceive each other.

The Right Tool for the Job

In the hands of a poetic pioneer laying the groundwork for positive change, the pen is mightier than the sword because it can be used to create literary masterpieces capable of motivating an army of fellow citizens to join the revolution.  In the hands of a foot soldier at the forefront of a battlefield, the sword is mightier than the pen because the soldier can use the sword to defend himself from imminent, physical danger.

Different people in different situations require different tools.  Any object can be mightier than another if it is used as a tool in the proper context.  A ply of soft tissue is mightier than a sword when you have a runny noise.  A glass of water and an apple are mightier than a pen when what’s needed is hydration and nourishment.

“The mighty,” I believe, are those people who know when to use the sword, and when to use the tissue.  They drink water when they’re thirsty and eat apples when they’re hungry.  They use a pen and paper (or a computer) when then want to inspire others.  And, I suppose, they invoke powerful, imaginary bazookas when they get called out and put on the spot in comedy clubs.

Photo by: Shoothead