Marco Polo’s Clue for Christopher Columbus

christopher-columbus

Marco Polo was born in the year 1254. As a teenager, he traveled from Europe to Asia with his father and uncle. This was no small task 750 years ago. They crossed foreign lands and mountain ranges to distant and mysterious societies. Marco Polo returned to Italy after 24 years to find Venice at war with Genoa. He served on a galleon and was captured as a prisoner of war and incarcerated for one year.

While in prison, he dictated his memoirs to another prisoner, a writer named Rustichello da Pisa. The memoirs became the book known as (loosely translated) The Travels of Ser Marco Polo.

A couple hundred years after Marco Polo wrote his book, Christopher Columbus read it. Like Polo, Columbus was a sailor and adventurer. He ardently studied maps and the work of other writers and explorers. He studied the sea, sailing, cartography, and ships. By the time he was 30, he had chosen to be an ocean explorer. Ocean discovery up to that time had been south, toward Africa. Few had dared to go west, where sea monsters and an endless waterfall awaited.

He was about 40 when he was studying in the Columbian Library in Seville, Spain, and picked up the book by Marco Polo. There he found a clue so profound that he made a handwritten note in its margin. His note highlights Marco’s observation that distant lands were washed on the East by a great sea.

Columbus may have imagined himself standing on the eastern shore of that distant land, facing Spain. He probably couldn’t have known that what would become known as the Americas lay between, but as he pondered on that comment by Marco Polo, he must have realized that if Japan had a sea to the east, and Europe had a sea on the west, there was no endless waterfall. There was land. The earth must be round.

For some 3,000 years of recorded sailing history, no one had journeyed past Portugal except for the Vikings, some 500 years earlier, who had ventured as far as what is now Nova Scotia. But this clue set Columbus’s mind to believe that he could venture west, which he did in October of 1492. That pierced the curtain, and fleets of explorers followed. The next 50 years saw more than a dozen countries launching hundreds of ventures into the new world, exploring both North and South America, where today we play Marco Polo in our pools.

Get on the Bike

When my daughter was little, she came to me one morning and excitedly told me that she’d just dreamed that she was riding her bike without training wheels.

“Do you know what that means?” I asked. “If you can dream it…”

“I can do it!” she chimed in.

So she and I went straight to the garage, and I got started taking the training wheels off her bike. Suddenly, my little girl got nervous. She said, “Dad, should we have a prayer?”

That wasn’t something I could say no to, so I asked her if she’d like to say it. She started to pray: “Heavenly Father, please bless my bike not to be tricky.”

Then she got on her bike. I helped her steady herself. On the second push, she was riding, just like she had seen herself do in her dream.

How often are we like that? There’s a vision of something we can see ourselves doing. We know in our gut that it means we can. And not far into trying, we get nervous.

That’s the point at which we have a decision to make. Do we go back to dreaming or do we get on our knees or reach out to a mentor to ask for help, then push through the scary part? (All big changes are scary, by the way.)

Here’s the thing. You’re going to crash. You might get it on the second push; you might not get it until the tenth or twentieth. No big deal. If it was going to be easy, everyone would have already accomplished it and it would be nothing to dream about in the first place. So don’t let the fear of falling or looking stupid or appearing not to have your act together stop you. Let go of who you think you are, and get on the bike. You’ll be just fine.

Oh, and one other thing. It’s important to take the training wheels off as soon as you think of it. I am certain that if I had put my daughter off and said something like, “Oh, we’ll have to get your training wheels off sometime this week,” it would have given her time to re-think. She may have easily convinced herself that her dream was only in her head and that now was not the right time. Seizing that moment while her vision was fresh was crucial.

We all have training wheels. We just call them things like a plateau or a comfort zone or “the way I’ve always done it.” We get so used to them that we don’t even realize they don’t have to be there. We may want them there because we know they ensure that we won’t fall. They also ensure that we won’t progress.

Right now is the time to get on that bike and leave behind whatever you’re doing or thinking that’s holding you back. If you’ve ever seen something different in your mind, that tells you that it can be. Jump into it right now, while you’re feeling it. Don’t wait for the perfect moment because there isn’t one. You don’t have to already be good at it or know everything. Drop what you’re doing, get out your wrench, and unbolt your status quo.

LLC

Bryan

Don’t Let The Start Stop You

Wouldn’t it be great if every day of your life someone deposited into your bank account 1,440 dollars? Well, every single day you get a deposit of 1,440 minutes into your life—free. What can you do with that? A lot of people waste their lives waiting for the perfect time to do X, Y, or Z. There are a million reasons to wait. You’re not ready, not prepared, not smart enough. You don’t have enough information or skill. But don’t let the start stop you. Continue reading “Don’t Let The Start Stop You”