Many moons ago, my wonderful long-time mentor, Lynn, told me a story.
There once was a dreamy girl who loved to float far above the earth, visiting her friends the planets and stars, looking down at her small green planet from a perspective that was nothing short of idyllic.
The girl cooked up so many great ideas while she was winging about in the stratosphere high above planet Earth. She solved world problems, imagined peace between all beings, saw the forests grow green and the oceans turn blue again.
There was just one teensy tiny problem. The girl spent so much time in her home-away-from-home up in the heavens she frequently forgot how to get back down to Earth again.
Luckily, she had anticipated this might occur and tied a string around her ankle before she took flight. She gave the string to a trusted friend so he could pull her down again if she stayed away too long.
I have always loved this story!
Not only is it a pretty accurate description of what happens in my personal world if I give my antsy mind even the slightest leeway, but I thought it was so wonderful the girl had such a good friend who would hold her string for her and retrieve her if she needed help returning home again.
You can probably see what’s coming here.
What if something happened to the friend?
For example, what if a giant sinkhole opened up and, in his rush to get to safety, he let go of the string? What if he met another girl he liked better and just dropped the string, fed up with all the waiting? What if he forgot why he was even holding the string in the first place?
For a million reasons and more, it is never a good long-term plan to give someone else the other end of your string.
I’ll be honest. I’m not sure I’ve ever had a particularly firm grip on the end of my own string. I’ve always been a dreamer. My dream life has always been way more exciting than my waking life.
While I’m asleep, I fly amongst the stars, travel the world, meet famous people, talk with my ancestors and visit all my most favorite places.
When I wake up, I sit at my kitchen table in my jammies all day long and write articles about cat food, dog toys and air conditioning units.
So it is easy to see why I might not think it would be a pressing matter to want to come back down to the ground….ever.
But in addition to letting go of the string, the friend in the story could also do lots of even less favorable things. He could give the string to someone else to hold – someone the girl doesn’t know, doesn’t like or doesn’t trust.
He could relocate the string, so that when the girl comes down she is thousands of miles from anyplace familiar. He could tie it to a tree branch, which will hold it quite well but won’t tug the girl back down when she’s ready to be reeled in.
For reasons far too numerous to brainstorm right now, it is really best if the girl takes charge of her own string.
Here it is probably obvious (yet still worth mentioning) that when my mentor tells me a story, it is always more like a parable or a fable – a tale with a deeper meaning. And sometimes she has to tell it to me several times before it begins to sink in.
For example, it actually took me years to listen to this story and move beyond simply wishing I had such a good friend who would hold my string for me while I flew around!
Now I can look back and see how readily and often I have given the other end of my string to someone else to hold. This has made me feel safe and secure when I should have been feeling exactly the opposite. I have entrusted someone else with my life, my safety, my sanity at times.
I have done this because I didn’t feel competent and confident to do these things for myself.
Today I am beginning to learn that I simply must work on this. Even more, I am learning that I want to be able to hold my own string and feel whole and complete and centered in my mastery of this particular task.
I am also realizing it will be literally impossible to truly enjoy a partnership of any kind with another soul while I am always trying to slyly slip them my string on the side. They already have a string to hold – their own. For those who do it well, they know holding one string fully and completely is a full-time job.
And for those who do it poorly, the last thing they need is a second string to juggle!
But most of all, I am realizing I am actually the very best person for the job of holding my own string. On my worst day, I am now realizing I am still likely to do a better job holding my own string than anyone else will, because it is my string, and my heart, and my path, and my life.
Today’s Takeaway: Can you relate to my mentor’s story? (I hope it is not too obscure – she tells it so much better than I do!) Are you holding your own string with confidence and competence? I’d love to hear from you! Are you still working on getting a good firm grip on your own string and not feeling tempted to give it to someone else like I am? I’d love to hear from you too!