“If you don’t like the direction your life is heading, change the direction of your sails.” If only it was that easy. This inspirational phrase seems simple enough yet it’s incredibly difficult to put in to practice. What I have learned thus far is that we have limited control over the exact destination in our lives.
Our lives are a sailboat floating on the current of existence. We have no control over the wind or the flow of the waters, we can only adjust our sail accordingly. We choose a path, set sail and hope to reach our destination. Sometimes the waters shift and take us in a different direction than we initially set out for. Sometimes that new destination is better than planned, other times it’s not.
Many days the sun is shining and there is a steady breeze. If we practice gratitude, we are usually thankful for these beautiful, uneventful days at sea. Other times, we barely take notice as the day passes by. The weather is perfect and our sails are set, we simply coast through the day unaware at how pleasant it is.
There are times that a storm comes. The winds blow this way and that, the waves crash over the sides of our boat. We don’t know if we will survive. Sometimes a destructive force smashes our sail and breaks the mast. Occasionally, we pass other boats already capsized and take a moment to lend our support. Every so often we pick up other travelers and share the journey for a period of time.
The sea always provides us with what we need. Perhaps there’s a day when our sails are set and we are ready to go, but there is no wind. We can get frustrated at this or use it as a time to practice patience. Patience with the journey, using the solitude to observe our inner self and life around. We might notice something, like the glint of the sun on the water or the sound of a dolphin call. In this moment, we find peace. As we get more experience, we realize the lack of wind always carries a message.
Patience is the greatest lesson to learn as it allows us the space to relax without the desire of control. Patience provides us the tools needed to control what we can—our actions, our thoughts and our words; and to let go of what we can’t—other people and the outside world.
I have myself changed the direction of my sails, caught a glimpse of a far off destination, released expectation and set sail. But most importantly, I’ve learned how to honor the patience it takes in life—with myself, with others, with the world. With this patience, any destination will be a delight… of that I’m certain.
“A man who masters patience, masters everything else.”