The sin of the fishing boat owner was that he ignored the reality of what his boat was equipped to handle nor took seriously the dangers of heavy seas. His personal belief, his personal truth led him into conditions that he was unprepared for. This story that he told himself about what both he and his boat could handle wasn’t a story based on wisdom, but rather ignorance and the result was disaster.
The sin of our poor web developer was her expectation that everyone would bend themselves around her expectations and timelines. She created characters out of the people in her life who may or may not have known the role she expected them to play in the story she was telling herself. Even if they did, they couldn’t win because they’re just avatars in her story, not actually people with their own independent plot lines. The result is that all these characters chronically failed to measure up to her expectations. And to compound that, she continually told herself stories on why people were such a disappointment in order to justify her frustrations in her own self-fulfilling prophesy.
Unless you’re Jesus, the ocean doesn’t give a shit what you have to say. You can have all the romantic fantasies you want, it will not play any other character but itself. It’s going to be what it’s going to be and that is something to be respected. Calm or chaotic and you can either work with it or try to fight it, and in the end the ocean will always win that fight.
A good blue water sailboat harmonizes with the ocean it finds itself in. It works with the water and doesn’t try to overpower it. It’s built strong with a heavy ballast and is stable in turbulent seas. It rises and falls gracefully with the waves. Unlike the overpowered fishing boat getting swamped, a sailboat can be quite comfortable in heavy seas if you know how to sail it. And even if you don’t, there’s a very good chance it’ll bring you out safely on the other side of the storm.
Boats are built to be task specific. It doesn’t just need water. It needs the right kind of water. Depending on the water it finds itself, a boat can be magnificent or worthless. A blue water sailboat is fantastic in the ocean, but not worth a damn in a shallow river. A flatbottom aluminum boat is perfect for slow moving, shallow rivers or getting deep into swamps, but no good at all offshore. In the end, the mariner needs to decide what kind of water they plan to be in and pair themselves with a boat built for that task.
My first sailboat was a San Juan 24. At 24 feet, it was small boat made for day sailing and not much more. It didn’t have a water tank or a head (toilet). So options were limited. But that was fine, because it was only meant to go out on for an afternoon sail. It was small and simple. The perfect boat for me to learn how to sail. My second boat was a Hunter 376. At 37 feet, it was a much, much bigger boat than my first and came fully equipped to not only stay on but also live on. In the 1990’s, sailboat manufacturers began changing the design of boats to be more suitable for what owners were actually using them for. While older boats were designed specifically for ocean crossing, the manufactures realized this isn’t actually what most boat owners did. What most of them did was hang out on their boats on the weekends and go for short trips close to land. So they designed them accordingly with more comfortable living spaces, lighter hulls, smaller water and fuel tanks and bigger cockpits designed for entertaining. These weren’t blue water boats, but rather coastal cruisers. Again, there’s nothing wrong with these boats. They’re perfectly capable of going out in open water. Mine was fantastic for the learning how to sail in the ocean and also having a comfortable place to live. But, while it was capable of being out in open water it wasn’t necessarily comfortable. The large cockpit, that was great to sit in while hanging out with friends at the marina, made it difficult to keep your seat when the boat was heeled over. It was a fast boat, but not well balanced which means in heavier wind, holding the wheel became impossible for the autopilot to manage and was a workout to hand steer. All this added up to extra work and extra stress and the boat got tiring to sail on long passages.
Which meant that once again, while it may have been the right boat for the time, it wasn’t going to be the boat that could take me where I wanted to go in the future.
Unlike boats, people can adapt and reinforce themselves to changing conditions. When the winds blow and the seas rise we’re capable of growth to meet that challenge. We’re capable of getting stronger, we’re able to adapt. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves of that fact.
Some storms are just too big to manage. But most aren’t.
It may be uncomfortable, but it isn’t impossible. And sometimes we need to go through them simply to remind ourselves of what we are capable of.
The world just seems kinda messed up right now.
Things just feel unstable. People are anxious about the future. They’re worried for their children. They’re worried about their jobs. They’re worried about the planet. They just don’t all agree on what’s wrong and who to blame.
It just feels like something bad is coming, like a shadow growing on the horizon. Something terrible as if the world is beginning to crumble. It’s almost like whatever it is that holds everything together has gotten tired and is starting to let go.
But, some say that just crazy talk and everything is fine. Most don’t know who to believe anymore. We’re told to distrust our neighbors. We’re told of the evil that lurks within the heart of the stranger. We’re told we have every right to be afraid. We’re told that we should be afraid.
Because being afraid is profitable for somebody. Being afraid get’s you to buy stuff. It makes you click links.
And those people who convince us that we should be afraid always have a solution for our fear.
We’re told to cling to a flag. Cling to a gun. Cling to an ideology. Cling to a religion. Cling to some new thing.
“Hold on” they say “Whatever you do, don’t let go. It’s the only way to stay safe. Trust us.”
Don’t let go or the wolves, lurking in the darkness, with devour us all.
And so many of us are afraid. We believe that we should be afraid.
Because it’s hard to have hope with so much uncertainty, so much cynicism, and so much cruelty in the world. It’s hard to believe that this madness can have a happy ending.
We desperately seek a better story.
And so, in these times, we seek places of refuge from the storms and the cold misery that consumes us.
And we should. We should seek sanctuary when our world becomes overwhelming.
We should seek out safe harbors when the storms blow.
That is why these places exist.
We just can’t stay there.
Our poor web designer and our fishing boat owner found themselves knocked around and swamped in stories unsuited for the life they found themselves. Much like our characters from the beginning of this particular story. Their stories… their boats… just keep taking on too much water to stay afloat.
They, like me, need a better boat.