Defenseless, abandoned, and not yet weened, Mowgli was in desperate need of nourishment. Without the ability to walk, not to mention no GPS, he needed Bagheera to deliver him safely to a nursing wolf to feed and nurture him in the wild jungle. Fellow sojourners of life, journey with Mowgli and I as we move Forward Through the Jungle.
Relationships are crucial to our vitality. Think back to moments in your childhood when you depended on a caregiver to provide you with the nourishment and tools that you needed to survive. They began feeding you milk, then gradually started you on various soft foods before feeding you a steak. They taught you to mimic words long before sending you to an English teacher who would make you write a 5 paragraph essay. Our caregivers taught us right from wrong. Perhaps the biggest asset of the caregiver, is that they protected us from danger. We felt safe around them.
At last, the moment comes when the relationship changes. We’ve outgrown the hedge of protection that the caregiver is capable of providing. Shere Khan is on his way, and we must leave the wolf pack. See, Mowgli was in grave danger by remaining in the jungle. His family could not protect him from Shere Khan any longer. He had to return to the village for his own safety, yet he had no clue that his current lifestyle could not sustain him any longer. He was so afraid of the unknown, that he was ignorant of his real danger, saying foolish phrases like, “I’m not afraid of Sri Khan,” who could eat him alive.
This situation probably best resembles a dating relationship that has reached a stalemate, or an adult child suffering from a failure to launch. As the individual stuck in this form of denial, we enjoy life just the way it is. We’re comfortable in our surroundings. The person in a dead end relationship might say, “It’s okay if we have disagreements on whether we should move in together, or how we’d raise our future children, because we love each other. Besides, what if nobody else comes around?” The adult child reasons, “It’s okay if dad’s rules won’t allow us to have significant others spend the night, or host parties with booze. After all, at least we get to live here rent free, right?” Our fear of new beginnings distracts us from the inconveniences of our outgrown lives.
The pull to stay can be so hard to resist sometimes. A day with zero conflict entices us to hold on a little longer, so we assure ourselves that everything will be fine. And you’re right, everything will be fine, but in this changing relationship, you must ask yourself, “is staying here for the best?” Ask the empty nesters taking their baby to college. It’s heartbreaking to say goodbye to a part of you. But in order for that child to thrive, they need to learn how to survive on their own, and bounce back from their own failures. Facing the responsibility of adulthood and the pain of a fading childhood is overwhelming for everyone involved! Mowgli was overwhelmed with the idea of living his life outside of the jungle. But he had to step out to the edge of the village in order to see that humans were intriguing. Bagheera and Baloo experienced the heartbreak of knowing they couldn’t protect him anymore, yet they were overwhelmed with the grief of saying goodbye.
The transitions of life can be frightening when we have no clue what lies ahead on the other side. Trust in the lessons already learned, grow from your previous failures, and slow down and take baby steps when needed. Soon you’ll see your new life in the horizon, the next helper to guide you, and the path that you know you’re supposed to take. And it will all make sense.
Inspired by the Walt Disney adaptation of The Jungle Book.