For Jim’s birthday I planned to take him sailing. The day came and the weather was rough, so rough there was only one guy that would rent us boat in Southwest Florida. We drove down and set sail in a 16’ Hobie Cat. Thankfully Jim is a very experienced sailor; still, there were several times I was quite impressed he kept the bottom side down! On our past sails the conditions have mostly been just breezy (on the verge of boring). That day was different- The wind was strong and gusty and the water was rough. I learned more in two hours than I had in all of our previous sails. We were flying. I was hanging off the side of the boat and using my weight to keep us from capsizing. Jim was “spilling wind” because our little boat had limits and at times the wind was too much. It was exhilarating.
Isn’t life just the same? Sometimes winds are strong and sometimes there is no breeze at all. At times during calm conditions we think we have to create our own wind. If you were in a sailboat in the middle of the ocean on a breezeless day, would you huff and puff and spend all your energy blowing into the sails with your own breath? What might you do instead? Why do we think our businesses, careers, or lives should be treated any different? How much effort do you put into blowing into your own sails? Conversely how much energy do you exhaust trying to push against the wind when the breeze is blowing?
Looking back at the birthday sail I notice so many more similarities that relate to ordinary occurrences. For instance: When it was time to tack (change directions), sometimes it didn’t go so smooth. Jim and I bumped into each other, emotions got edgy, and a couple times we lost all of our momentum. On the other hand when we were moving swiftly forward with our sails full there were occasional adjustments to be made, but in the big picture, we were just enjoying the ride.
One factor to realize is: if we didn’t tack and kept that course, we would have sailed our boat into deep waters far away from land… and we were on a tiny boat only prepared for a couple of hours of adventuring. For our own well-being, we had to change directions. The changing of directions sometimes wasn’t a smooth transition. Even though I’m not an experienced sailor, I had complete faith in Jim and wasn’t worried at all. After a few times of turning around and heading back toward shore I also realized this: Even if we came to what seemed like a complete standstill miles off shore- we were still moving and those strong winds eventually filled the sails and we’d be flying again. We continually used the wind to our advantage- that’s what sailing is all about!
How might this relate to you?
Are you in the midst of a change in direction? If your current situation seems muddled or confusing, might the good news be that you are still moving (even if it doesn’t seem so). If there isn’t wind now, there soon will be and it will fill your sails. Let it. Worry and apprehension might give you something to do in the moment, but neither will get you anywhere. Trust the gale of inspiration will come.
Are you flying and moving swiftly forward with full sails? Receive and enjoy the gale, realize you are the wind, take the voyage and do it with ease. When we let our ship sail under the wind and give it everything we’ve got, every day is a blast- it becomes seemingly effortless and fun.
My big takeaway from the birthday sail was: I love sailing in a strong wind and in what many would consider intimidating conditions. Sure, when winds are calm it’s relaxing and that can be nice for a bit. BUT, WOW! Was that sail fun!! It’s was a lot more work, Jim and I were both sore, and there were a few times I thought we were going to capsize…. But that is where the living is done! I feel like I am in those same winds in life right now. The wind is a blowing and I love it! I really don’t know where I am going to end up, but that is all a part of the adventure.
What is your take? How might this discussion apply to how you feel and where you are today? I’d love to hear your thoughts, stories, and comparisons. Feel free to comment below or contact me directly.
St. François de Sales’ quote (below) was the fuel for this article. I first came across it while reading The Inside-out Revolution last year. In June it popped up again and spurred on a fascinating class discussion (on the same day as the birthday sail!). Then, out of the blue last week, one of my clients mentioned how drawn he is to the quote and the ideas it has stirred in him. Read it, let it sit and read it again:
“Our free will can hinder the course of inspiration, and when the favourable gale of God’s grace swells the sails of our soul, it is in our power to refuse consent and thereby hinder the effect of the wind’s favour; but when our spirit sails along and makes its voyage prosperously, it is not we who make the gale of inspiration blow for us, nor we who make our sails swell with it, nor we who give motion to the ship of our heart; but we simply receive the gale, consent to its motion and let our ship sail under it, not hindering it by our resistance.”
St. François de Sales
One simple message that comes up for me is: propelling our tiny boat across the ocean isn’t our responsibility. The wind will take care of that. It is in our power to work against or do nothing with the gale. It is also in our power to set sail and take an active part in the grand adventure.
What comes up for you?
Catch some wind, be the wind, and enjoy the ride.
Until with next revolution….
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