The boiled frog.

I had lunch today with my financial advisor, his wife, and another client of his.  Amit, my advisor, started organizing these lunches about a year ago because he wanted to introduce like-minded clients to one another.  I’m so glad he did.  Each time we get together, I walk away encouraged to pursue the real me.

Today at lunch, I learned the metaphor of the boiling frog.  The tale (or perhaps truth) is that if you put a frog in boiling water, it will jump out.  But if you put a frog in lukewarm water and slowly bring the water to a boil, the frog will stay in the water and boil to death.  I had never heard that before.  My curiosity sent me straight to googling “boiling frog,” and I found that there is some controversy about whether a frog really can be boiled to death. Whether the tale is scientifically accurate or not, the metaphor has captivated me.

Is it possible that a particular situation is egregious but I don’t realize it because it got to be that way over time?  Have I slowly developed behaviors that I would have despised ten years ago?  I am afraid so.

One example that comes to mind is my weight.  Though I have not grown an inch taller, I weigh a solid fifteen pounds more than I weighed in high school.  Had you told me then that I would gradually gain fifteen pounds and consider it normal, I would have been horrified.  So why is that state acceptable to me now?  Another example is that I graduated high school wanting to travel the world.  Had someone told me then that at thirty-seven I would not have left North America even once, I would have agonized at that thought.  But here I am – untraveled at thirty-seven.  This state of non-adventure should not be okay with me. Yet another example is that, in the last few years,  I have allowed a few precious relationships to fall into disrepair.  There was a time that I could not have fathomed the thought of being without those people, and here I am today, not having spoken to them in years. 

These examples are just a few that come to mind when I consider the metaphor going backwards in time.  I also can consider the metaphor looking forwards.  I can identify things, behaviors, beliefs and people that I value today and would be horrified to give up.  I don’t want to allow myself to be resigned to a way of life five, ten or twenty years from now that I would not choose today.  I want to love and have a family.  I want to travel and write.  I want to inhale books.  I want to be connected with my family and friends on a regular basis and in a meaningful way.  I cannot let myself get so busy with the day-to-day demands and distractions that I get numb to those desires and adapt to living without them.  I cannot let myself get so self-centered and prideful that I allow people I love to walk away and perhaps feel that they were dispensable.  I fear I am slowly allowing these things to happen.

I had lots of dreams at eighteen about who I could be, the relationships I wanted, and the life I could have.  I think thirty-seven-year-old me needs to have regular chats with eighteen-year-old me so that we can come to some agreement about the things that are – and must remain – non-negotiable for my life.  If the water is boiling or starting to get warm, I want to know.

Does this metaphor resonate with anyone else?  Can you think of a boiling frog example in your own life?  Maybe if we help one another identify the warm water hazards, we all can avoid being the boiled frog.

5 thoughts on “The boiled frog.

  1. amazing post…. yes, i totally understand that metaphor. btw, i am glad that my 18 year old self has reconnected with you at 30!! 😉

  2. Taline, this tears at my heart in a way I wasn't expecting. Not just for the 18 & 37 year old you but for my 18 & 36 year old self. It tears at the heart of 2 little girls who rode bikes together 150 years ago.I think we all have moments like this in our lives but few of us are courageous enough to truthfully examine, acknowledge and remedy the core problem. You are light years ahead of the majority. I truly believe all things in life happen for a reason and serve some bigger piece of my "big picture" puzzle of life. Each relationship, job, trip, heart ache, argument and so on is what has made me who I am today. The same is true for you. Boiling frog or not – only you can determine what you need and want out of life and sadly, only you can chase it with energy and enthusiasm to make it happen.Hugs to you, friend.

  3. I love this and love that you're evaluating it. It *is* a good metaphor. One of my favorite parts of getting older (not to mention my very favorite part of having to deal with difficult and unexpected situations) is that opening of eyes long-closed. It's never too late to stretch and grow and change. If you want it, do it!

  4. You are so kind and humble – it was due to your efforts that we got together that day. We are all boiling frogs, I think, to the extent that life isn't perfect and there are things we'd all like to change. And we've all gone through the experiences you described, so please don't beat yourself up about them! As the saying goes, "Life's what happens while you're busy making plans."You ARE a dreamer! Always have been, always will be, if I had to make a wager. That's what counts. That, and living in the moment. The Now. After all, doesn't the entire breadth of Life actually transpire in the eternal Now? It seems to me that is all we really have. Why spend the Now thinking about yesterday or what could have been?

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