Let me tell you a true story …
I was walking along the beach one day, feeling lucky. My life was good. I had all my ducks lined up in a row. Whatever I had believed, I had conceived and achieved. And when the going had been tough, I’d got going.
As I walked, I saw a starfish lying in the sand. I picked it up and asked him, “What are you doing?” He replied, “I’m building a cathedral.” But he clearly wasn’t. So I threw him into the ocean.
Suddenly I felt a force in my back, and I was thrown face first into the sand. I turned to see a group of monkeys aiming a large hose of jet-cold water at me.
“What did you do that for?” I yelled. They stopped, and looked at each other, puzzled. “Err, there’s no ‘I’ in team,” one said haltingly, and then added, “Although, now that I think of it, there are two in ‘schizophrenia’.”
“Ummm … We were just shifting your paradigm”, said another.
“No, no”, said a third. “We moved your cheese.”
I just stared at them, until eventually one of them muttered, “Nobody ever asked us that before”, and they skulked away.
I turned away in disgust and looked out to the ocean. Suddenly, to my horror, I saw a battleship heading towards the beach, and – what’s more – right into the path of my starfish.
I cupped my hands to my mouth and yelled across the water, “Turn 10 degrees to port – now!” In reply, their loudhailer boomed back at me, “No, YOU turn 10 degrees to starboard – now!”
They were in trouble – BIG trouble. But I had a positive attitude, which was contagious – and I hoped it was worth catching by the men on that ship. I called back again, “I’m warning you – turn 10 degrees to port – NOW!” But the reply came back, even louder, “And I’m warning YOU – turn 10 degrees to starboard!”
What could I do? They were heading straight for shore. “Stop! Danger!” I yelled. But the reply came back, “I stop for nobody. I’m a battleship.”
Quickly, I thought outside the nine dots and yelled back, “I’m a lighthouse”. Unfortunately, it was daytime, and they could see I obviously wasn’t. So they ignored my warnings and headed straight for the shore.
I knew I had to lead, follow or get out of the way. I got out of the way. Unfortunately, the starfish wasn’t so lucky.
I tell you this story not to sadden you – because the sun is always shining even when you can’t see it – but to inspire you.
Nor to apologise – because love means never having to say you’re sorry – but to theorise.
And not to point a finger at the commander of that battleship – because whenever I do, there are two fingers pointing back at me (there used to be three, but I lost one in a freak accident when I lost concentration while sharpening an axe for six hours) – but to point YOU in a new direction.
You see, that was in the past, and the past is just a memory. All we have is the gift of now – that’s why we call it the “present” (Ummm … and the gift of tomorrow, I suppose – that’s why we call it, err, the future. But that’s another story).
I felt bad at the time, but it WAS in my past. Looking back now, I realise it didn’t make a difference to me. But it did to that starfish.