“You don’t control the wind but you can adjust your sails”

Sometime in life I feel like there is nothing I can control.  The news delivers nothing but hopeless scenarios and I stand ineffective against the wind.  I was feeling this way recently when I heard this phrase, “you don’t control the wind but you can adjust your sails.”  Maybe there is hope if I can apply this concept.

It is fairly obvious that a sail is designed to catch the wind and to then utilize the force of that captured wind to propel the boat forward.  When the wind is at my back and my aim is downwind, there isn’t a problem to overcome.  That would be clear sailing at its best.  When a sailor needs to cross against the wind, this presents a problem.  To the non-sailor, this problem is insurmountable.  But the seasoned sailor tackles the situation with a maneuver known as “tacking into the wind.”  By angling the sails and moving diagonally across the wind, the wind glancing off the sails pulls the boat forward.  Goal accomplished.

So how do I apply this concept to my seeming uncontrollable situation?  I must not face the wind head on if I am to move forward.  Since I do not control the situation, the wind, I must tack against it.  How do I change the direction without changing my course?  The answer, I adjust my sails.  The sails may be my perspective.  What I felt needed to be done first may need to wait its turn in the sequence.  If limits on my time was the issue, perhaps I find a way to give the process more time.  Or perhaps it is my expectation.  The perfectionist will balk at even trying if they believe the outcome will be less than perfect.  If we understand that perfection comes with repeated effort and only over time and refinement, then we could change our expectation.  Now I am not saying that we accept anything less than our best effort, but I am saying that an adjustment of our vision may suffice to accomplish our goal.  What may not be perfect may be an important step toward it.

There will always be times in life when it feels like the winds of change blow against us.  It is in these moments that we must adjust our sails.  If we can change our perspective, adjust our time or even modify our expectation, we can find a way to tack into the winds of change to accomplish our goals.  It seems that now more than ever, our society is at a crossroads.  If we view this problem as insurmountable, we could let a crisis become our downfall.  If we only view our world as black or white, gay or straight, Christian or Muslim, we are doomed to continue the mistakes of our past.  Unless we can gain perspective, we will never move forward against the winds of hate that divide us.  But if we can collectively work to adjust our sails, then there still remains hope.  Hope that we can rise above the biases that divide us and find ways to bridge the chasm that seems to be developing.

If we can do this, if we can adjust our sails, then I believe that we are a worthy generation and that all things are still possible.  If you took the time to read this, then take the time to sail with me.  Even the best sailboat needs an able crew.

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