You Have No Competition: A Story About Boatmen
The other day I took a longtail boat from Koh Tao, an island in Thailand, to Koh Nang Yuan, a smaller island just a 15 minute boat ride away. On Koh Tao you can walk to a beach and ask a boatman (yes, this is what they are called) to take you somewhere. You do a little negotiating (if you’re smart), and then you’re off.
The boatman tells me to pay for both trips, there and back, up front. I say ok, because that’s the way things are done there. He says he will pick me up at five. I say ok, again, because that’s the way it goes there. In my mind I’m vaguely wondering how he will remember me or how we will find each other, but at this point I’ve been in Thailand long enough to know it will all work out. I might have imagined it would be easy because the island I’m going to is very small and very quiet.
I would be right, and I would also be wrong. The island is very small, but it is not very quiet. In fact, it’s like an amusement park. There are so many people at the dock that I have no idea how I’ll find the boatman who I have already paid to bring me home. But I let go, have faith, and relax. It will all work out, and it did. At 4:45 PM I went to the dock and saw a long stream of boats lined up. At the very end was my boatman, who happily waved me on board.
I climb under the rope railing and jump down to a boat 4 boats away from mine. A different boatman holds my hand as I hop to the next boat, bobbing up and down with the ocean. I sit down and wait for two other passengers who have made the same agreement with my boatman. As I sit there waiting I am moved by the teamwork of all of the boatmen.
As each longtail boat approaches the dock they rope themselves up to the boat next to them.
This means that all of the boats are linked to one another and can’t operate individually.
They are all competitors in the sense that they are running the same businesses and working for the same clients, but they all support one another. If a boat tries to dock and the boatman of the outer boat is busy, another boatman will hop from boat to boat to rope him up. All of the men carry babies and small children to the boat they are assigned. They help each other navigate and avoid hitting larger boats when the oceans pushes or pulls them.
There is no such thing as competition.
We have a choice to believe that the universe is scarce or overflowing. When we trust that we are provided for our relationship to life shifts. We become more willing to help, and the irony is that the more we genuinely give of ourselves, the more that comes to us.
We don’t actually have to fight one another. We don’t have to stampede to be first in line. We don’t need to tear each other down because we’re intimidated or afraid. We don’t have to bully or breakdown the others. We don’t have to be the winner.
There is enough.
When we act as if we have it all, we actually have it all.
And then we get more.
Because that’s what the universe is made up of: more.