Stop yelling at the unmanned boat.

“We cling to our own point of view, as though everything depended on it. Yet our opinions have no permanence; like autumn and winter, they gradually pass away.” – – Zhuang Zhou

The Chinese philosopher named Zhuang Zhou wrote about a man traveling across a river in his boat when he noticed another boat quickly coming straight for him. The man began waving his arms and calling out to the boat’s driver to change course. As the boat closed in on him, he cursed and shouted louder. As the two boats collided, he screamed out, threatening the driver and calling him horrible names. But then he made a discovery. The other boat was empty — it had no driver at all. The current of the river had caused the collision and all of this time he had been yelling at an empty boat.

We all believe that our course is the right and true one and that our path is sound. We get frustrated when others do not adjust or align their course to suit our needs. Whether trying to navigate morning rush hour traffic, or dealing with other people and organizations in animal rescue, we get frustrated when things do not go according to our plan or desire. But how many times in your life have you been yelling at an empty boat? Do you assume that another rescue group or animal shelter should act in a certain way yelling and cursing and bemoaning why they don’t change their course despite the fact that you’re asking them to?

I’m sure in our lives at one point or another all of us have been yelling at an empty boat. We assume that our course is the right one and that others that may collide with us should give way or defer to our priority. But what if you are getting yourself worked up, frustrated and angry at an empty boat; one that does not feel guilt or responsibility, one that is above reproach and shame? What will you do when your boats collide and you realize the error of your ways and that your frustration was with someTHING and not someONE?

You should not get angry at something that is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Whether you agree with the course of the organization or recognize the philosophy by which they go about their business, they are going to continue their course whether you amplify your objections or not.

Remember that yelling at an empty boat will not alter its course and could end up causing you to collide.

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