Live Like Riley

609. Join me in inspiring truly powerful people. Each day I will add a new thought, story or idea to support your quest and mine.

Riley the black Labrador is 15 years old and fetches logs from the Puget Sound. Riley’s human has a tough time lifting and launching the logs for Riley to fetch. He doesn’t throw them, they are too big to throw; he launches them. Riley waits until his log is really far from shore and then he does what retrievers do. It is a beautiful thing to watch because Riley’s mouth is not big enough to bite the log. He has to find something at the end to chomp and then, rather than swimming the log to shore in his mouth, he tugs it inch by inch until he drags it back onto the beach, wagging his tail the whole way. His task seems impossible but he finds a way. The enormity of his task is a source of his pleasure. Riley will no longer fetch little sticks; they pose no challenge.

We are like Riley only rather than retrieving logs we tell stories. We wrap stories around our challenges. Riley would never think, “That stick is too big!” If he had language (and who really knows, he might), he’d think, “Let’s see!” or “What’s next!” Riley is not invested in what the other Labrador’s think or how he measures up with the other pooches. He does not spend time wondering if he is a good enough retriever. “Launch the log!” he thinks wagging his tail in anticipation of his task. Our challenges are rarely too big – the actions necessary are rarely difficult; only our stories make it so. Do you wish to write a book? What is the story that prevents you from writing? Do you yearn for more space? What is the story that leads you to pack your days so full? Do you love your humans? What is the story that prevents you from letting them know?

There is no greater point to Riley’s task; the purpose is in the relationship with his human. We derive our purpose from much the same thing. And, not unlike Riley, we find great pleasure when the sticks we fetch are just beyond what we believe possible to achieve. If the stick is too small, like Riley, we get bored. Unlike Riley, however, we will tell a story justifying why the small stick is just the right size of challenge, safe, and good to fetch because we already know how to do it. I admire Riley. When he sees the too small stick he sits on the beach, looks at his human, wags his tail with pleasure as if to say, “Oh, we can do better than that!”

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