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.