Where everything’s better, everything’s safe

By Complexity Fit

Walk on the ocean / Step on the stones / Flesh becomes water / Wood becomes bone... 

Toad the Wet Sprocket frontman, Glen Phillips wrote the iconic 1991 song when he and his wife were on holiday in Washington's San Juan Islands after hanging "out at Doe Bay Hot Springs with a bunch of hippies." The lyrics were originally written as placeholders, but he could not come up with anything better. "I wrote down literally the first thing that came across my mind. The lyric and the chorus, I have no idea what it means, unfortunately. Then I tried rewriting it and nothing ever really worked. I tried to make the chorus mean something, and eventually said, 'Well, it sounds like I know what I'm talking about.' So, we just left it as is. It was the least-conscious, least-crafted lyric".

Yet, this Nirvana-style song writing, “where the song might not make much sense, but it makes you feel something”, has tugged on the heart strings of millions of people for 3 decades. Some feels this is a song about vagabonding and the search for something better. Others sense a reminiscence of a fleeting moment not fully appreciated at the time. 

Me? The song certainly makes me feel something. I hear a subtle meditation on the impermanence of our daily lives and a search for meaning. It does not make me feel sad. It makes me feel inspired and adventurous. It makes me courageous.

And that’s the reason “Walk on the Ocean” is the unofficial theme song for my life. This one life that I choose to live with courage and curiosity. Because everything’s not safe, but not doing anything, or worse, doing the wrong thing because you’re afraid, is worse. Everything’s better, however, when you learn to harness an energy to remain poised when vulnerable in the continuously more erratic world.  Courage is not the absence of fear, but the ability to respond in the presence of fear. Courage enables engagement in unpredictable and unknown contexts.

Courage is unbelievably freeing. In combination with the skill of Openness: you won’t believe how alive and thankful it makes you feel. In business, these meta-skills translate into a catalyst for true innovation. I don’t think anyone can call Elon a close-minded coward.

“Today is a gift. That’s why we call it ‘the present’.” – Eleanor Roosevelt (Or Bill Keane and Master Oogway in Kung Fu Panda and several other authors). So, go on, join that ocean-swimming book club. Take that trip to the Namib. Test out that new product idea. Carpe Diem, Buttercup.

More to explore:
Being COOL: The Meta-skills for complexity fitness

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