BY KEISHA JOHNSON
Have you heard it said, the water will never part until you put your feet in it? This metaphor references the biblical stories of the parting of the Red Sea and the River Jordan, places we can either view as a death trap or our greatest opportunity when we seem stuck.
The story is told of Moses leading millions of Israelis in the great exodus from slavery in Egypt to start a new life in a ‘promised land’. As they fled the familiar they found themselves out of places to run and were trapped on the edge of a chasm between the past and the future.
Whatever choice they made, whether to go back or to go forward, was a huge risk. In the midst of the chaos, Moses inquired of the Lord who instructed him to do the seemingly ridiculous, move towards the Red Sea and lead the people into the deep.
This story is not too far-fetched from some of our experiences today. Sometimes life throws us curve balls: we lose our job or the breadwinner or the person who anchored us in life. It feels like the rug is pulled from under us and there’s no way forward. Doors of opportunity close and we lose hope as to whether they’ll ever come our way again.
In those moments, uncertainty swirls, chaos looms and we can become paralyzed with fear or be infused with fierceness to chance the unknown. The choice is ours and how we respond determines whether we live or die.
When Moses stretched out his hand over the Red Sea, the waters parted creating a wall on either side and a clear passage to walk through. The entire company of people with him, we are told, escaped the ensuing army on dry land. They risked the unknown and lived!
The story goes on to record that as the army pursued them into this miraculous new path, the same waters that were divided for Moses and his company to go through, came barrelling down and engulfed the entire enemy army.
I once heard another story of a dog curled up in agony sitting on a nail. Passersby asked those standing around why don’t he just get up? One man responded, I guess it doesn’t hurt bad enough.
What circumstances are you facing that seem hopeless? What ideas and solutions have you been sitting on? How much longer will you remain reluctant to chance the unknown and make a move towards your greatness?
Unless you ‘put your feet in the water’, the water will not divide.
In 2013 I was inspired to create a platform to showcase the great work of trailblazers and game changers in our community. The objective was simply to inspire others with hope, knowledge and experiences to thrive in their own journey as well as to draw attention to the multiplicity of our communities’ contributions to Canadian society.
I was new to Toronto and had met lots of amazing people who have accomplished many firsts among the Caribbean diaspora or general Black community in Canada. Yet many of their contributions, impact and stories were unknown in various pockets of the society.
In fact, I remember one specific occasion at a dinner table surrounded by professionals, lawyer, doctor, judge, politician, CEO and myself, all of Caribbean heritage and two Caucasian Canadian neighbours. In the conversation, the question was asked how come we don’t see or hear about more like you in mainstream media?
Our neighbours were not being facetious. They were concerned that the image portrayed in mainstream favoured the negative and poorly reflected the fullness of our people. We all agreed that day that the onus is on us to tell our own stories. I left that dinner party wondering how and what can I do in that endeavour.
I took a chance to move forward with the platform as a TV show. As I shared it with others, the support was overwhelming. I didn’t have the resources to make a TV show, but then I was offered two radio spots on two different radio stations. Someone I had done some pro bono work for came on board as a producer. Another company offered to undertake the marketing. The support and resources have been snowballing since I took a chance and stepped out. The show, Living the Dream in Canada will debut on Carib101radio on July 13, 2016.
This is what I mean when I encourage you to ‘step into the water’ and then it will divide. Do not be paralyzed by your circumstances whatever they may be. Be fierce not fearful! Make a move and give your dream permission to live.