The Empty Rowboat

Charlotte Joko Beck, in her wonderful book, Nothing Special, suggests that we imagine we have a lovely rowboat that we are very proud of. We have just had it painted and we are rowing away on a lake (or on the Central Park Lagoon), when WHAM! Some bozo rows right into us.

They not only make a big noise, but they damage the paint on our boat and maybe even knock one of our oars into the water. We are angry with them: why didn’t they look where they were going? Just look at the damage they’ve done!

Then we go home and repair the damage.

Now suppose the same scenario repeats itself: we have just had our boat painted and we are rowing away on a lake (or on the Central Park Lagoon), when WHAM! A rowboat crashes into us.

But this time, imagine that that other rowboat is empty. What would our reaction be now?

Our life is full of empty rowboats wreaking havoc in our lives. But we seem to need someone to blame. We waste a lot of energy on being angry at the “perpetrator”, when maybe it was just an empty rowboat, after all.

We should just go and fix the damage and get on with our lives.

Nothing special.

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