“Burn the boats – When ancient Greek armies traveled across the sea to do battle, the first thing they would do after landing was to burn the boats, leaving them stranded. With no way to make it home besides victory, the resolve of the soldiers was strengthened. When success and failure are the only options, you have no choice but to follow through. If you have a goal, but are afraid to commit, force yourself into action by burning the boats… Fear of failure disappears when you realize it can’t save you.” Written by: Editor in Chief, Pick The Brain.
As someone with an affinity for boat metaphors, the image of gray smoke filling the winter air as blazing ships dot a distant shoreline has now been included in my arsenal of symbolism; however, in my mind, our Greek heroes have been replaced with my Scandinavian ancestors, who sailed the seas in their longships; waged war; and explored distant lands.
The symbolism of both the image and quote stand out to me, catching my eye, like the reds and oranges in a ship ablaze. And as I stand on this French shore, looking at a fleet of boats engulfed in flame, I hold a lit torch that I have not yet thrown into my own trusty longship. Why do I take pause? Because I have never known that I was supposed to burn my boat. Why didn’t anyone tell me this? Send me the memo? “When you disembark, make sure you throw a torch in your vessel. And then run towards battle.”
Now on land, I run away from my glowing boat and towards my own personal adventure; sword raised high overhead; screaming promises; my short brown hair blown back by the wind; my armor weighing me down on my journey uphill. Because everything is uphill.
While I took a leap of faith when I moved to Paris, I must remind myself that I can never stop moving forward; scaling the impossible; climbing my personal mountain, like a spunky mountain goat. Moving back and forth along rocks; gabbing hold of dirt, weeds, roots that stick out of the earth. All in order to ascend. And if I do not climb this hill, or get out of my boat to begin with, I will never go higher than this cliff. My ceiling will remain low.
At the top of this cliff, I run across barren land, searching for possibilities, watching my comrades fall back, until I find myself alone on the banks of another body of water. I search until I find another way forward, because I have to remember to never stop trying, because once you start, the fear of the new fades away with the sound of the river.
I push off from land and paddle along in my new Parisian canoe, navigating my way through the narrow streets and alleyways while riding the currents of the major boulevards. I have taken a leap of faith into the unknown; however, you will always be evolving, especially if you are driven to be a success; accomplished; something great.
I have continuously been jumping ship and swimming; climbing into another ship and sailing until it is time to move on. I have done it time and again. And will continue to do so again and again; over and over; but this time, I’m going to do something drastically different: I am going to burn my boat.