• Jacob West

My Life Analogy

I have a life analogy for you. No matter what phase of life I have found myself in, it always seems to ring true. I’m not saying this is true for everyone, surely it could be, but certainly, I find it accurate for myself. And just recently I added to this analogy. I developed another layer of personal truth to this metaphor. So, here we go. Might as well share it:

Picture yourself in the middle of the ocean. Turning your head a full three-hundred and sixty degrees, you see nothing but the ocean blue. There’s nothing special about this ocean, and your location is unknown. You’re simply treading water as the ocean moves around you.

Currently, the water is a lovely light blue as the sun beams its beautiful rays through the sky and refracts into the ocean. A few clouds here and there, but for the most part, the sky is left empty for the bright blue to fill in the rest. This day is a nice day. There are many nice days. And as you may have guessed, not all days are nice days.

Sometimes the ocean is hit with a storm. Pulling and tugging, you are sent left and right, up and down. As the waves grow larger, you feel smaller. You feel powerless and at the wave’s mercy alone, you think you may survive. Yet this is of course false. For no matter the wave, it is you who carries the strength to stay afloat.

And although it appears to be the ocean that determines your survival, it is actually always yourself. It is how you pace yourself. You can kick harder, learn a better technique, or move your hands side to side faster, all allowing more of your body to be above water. All allowing bigger, steadier breathes. Let me tell you something, to take a deep breath after a long night can feel exhilarating. But it’s hard to maintain.

The more you move your body, the more tired you become. Although you are warm from the sun and breathing with ease, your muscles begin to ache. They start to scream out in agony. And as much as you hate to admit it to yourself, you’re simply not strong enough. You know you need a break.

So, you let yourself sink. Lowering your body, until just your mouth is afloat, you take your slowed breathes as your muscles relax. And depending on how tired you are, you may just sink all the way.

Taking a big breath right before your rest, you allow your entire body to sink as your muscles completely stop moving. Hovering just above the surface, this too, surprisingly, can feel like a lovely rush. Your muscles are at total peace. No movement, no pain, no need. And for a few seconds, it’s okay. But then you are faced with a decision.

Feeling your lungs convert the once beautiful oxygen into carbon dioxide, you desire another breath. You desire another gulp of fresh air. And sometimes you do, but other times you hesitate because you’re simply so sore and tired. Left with the ultimate decision, some never rise back up, and thankfully, most do.

And there’s one last part of this analogy that you may not know. Some hear of it and they laugh. Some consider it and they grow scared. Some do it and only then do they understand.

Although the ocean appears endless, it surely is not. It is vast and wide, but it has defined boundaries. It has edges that we call land. Where one doesn’t need to tread water to take a breath, they just simply breathe.

I can’t tell you the direction to swim, and only you can learn how to swim, but I can say it probably doesn’t matter. North is as good as South as long as you keep swimming North once you have begun. As long as you are not discouraged as others swim past you and tell you to turn around. They don’t know any more than you do. And that’s okay. Because they will find their land if they keep going, and you will find yours.

Life is treading water in an ocean that has a mind of its own, and goals external from your own. It does not own you, but it does affect you, and you must learn the difference. And no matter what you hear, just remember, there is a path worth going other than down. You just have to believe it, even if you don’t see it. Because who knows, if you go far enough, you may just find a nirvana you can reach.


I’m full right now. I am whole. And there’s so much left to do. So much left I could grow to. It’s only up if I want it to be. And this brings a thought to mind. There’s even more to this analogy.

To continue life’s analogy there is a mountain to the land that you spent so long traveling to. At first, you think why climb it, but then you think why not. And so, you do.

Slowly, you play on the terrain you never knew existed. The sturdiness of the rocks, the sun’s warmth captured by the land, and the calmness of breath all come to your attention as you feel your complete control.

This mountain is tall, older than time, and you are small, younger than you believe. But it doesn’t feel this way as you get higher. The mountain doesn’t feel so different anymore. And although you don’t find any other climber, you feel less alone.

This mountain for some is endless. Endless to them because their finite selves simply took too long. For others, it takes decades, or years. Maybe for a lucky few, it’s only months. But no matter who you are, it’ll take time… lots and lots of time.

Upon summiting this mountain, you see a view that dreams were never so creative to make.

The view is everything. Everything to exist is in front of you. Everything that is, is right there and of course, you smile. Because from up there everything is beautiful. Everything is perfect. And nothing is separate.

Sitting down on the mountain top, you cry, you laugh and then you look again. Just look. And you look until you can not look any longer. Because your brain gets tired since a finite mind can only hold an infinite experience for so long.

And with your tired eyes, you thank yourself for treading water for so long. Because only then did you have the strength to swim. You thank your need to breathe because then did you desire land. And you thank your finite existence because that is as perfect as you need to know.

Your eyes close and you never move again. Are you dead? Well to you, yes. But to them, the one sitting on that mountain top seeing all, they died the moment they took their look upon all the perfectness. The body smiled atop the mountain, but the I at that point knew better than to say it had ever lived.

Image Credit: http://leighacampbell.com/

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