This is a short piece about one of the most powerful lessons I've ever learned in my life. It wasn't until this past year that I realized how valuable this lesson is. I hope that by sharing it, it may help someone who needs to know that they have the power to adjust their own sails.
Adjusting Your Sails
By Henry Duthler
As I was growing up, my father took up sailing. I remember the day he bought his first sailboat and the sheer joy in his face when he was out sailing on Lake Huron, powered by nothing but his faith in the wind. I often wondered, what if the wind just took him out to sea, and never changed direction? How would he ever come back? How much love would he have for the sailboat as he floated into the horizon away from everyone and everything he loved? It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how silly my fears were and that I have missed such an important detail in how I viewed my father’s faith in the wind. My father was just an ordinary man who didn’t have any mystical powers over nature. He didn’t have the ability to perform miracles and ultimately he understood very clearly that he would never be able to control the wind that carried him across the water. But he did have the ability to adjust his sail.
There are many things in life we can not control. There are things we must endure every day that seem unfair, and sometimes cruel. No matter how powerless we might feel in their presence, there is always one thing that we can hold on to, that one thing that gives us the strength and the ability to overcome whatever stands in our way. It is simply our ability to choose how we deal with it.
For many of us, we feel entitled to dwell on our heartaches, to sit and wallow in self pity when we are faced with loss. But what do you do when you have children who need you to be strong? When their eyes are fixed on you for comfort and guidance? There are really only two logical choices to this question: Consume yourself in your loss or give meaning to the loss.
Although it seems natural to protect yourself when we experience pain and loss, I truly believe that we are destined to relive that pain over and over again if we don’t embrace it and give it meaning. By choosing the second option, we take away all of the hurt immediately and begin to recover instantaneously. When your spouse leaves you, and you don’t know what her reasons were or why she left you, you can spend the rest of your life speculating and guessing, and never know if you’ve figured it out. It is like a revolving door that never allows you to exit the turnstile. However, if you give your own reasons why, you answer the question immediately, allowing yourself to move past this, and to move on. So when you hear that tiny small voice in your head asking "why?" gather all of your strength and answer... "because its my turn to adjust my sails, and to set a new course."