Friday, February 3, 2012

If The Wind Will Not Serve, Take To The Oars

I ran across a ancient Latin proverb the other day scrawled in the margins of my copy of “Quicksand and Passing” from back in my college days. It reads “If the wind will not serve, take to the oars.” Powerful. It speaks of taking action when circumstances seem as though they will lead to anything but what’s expected. If the wind is not blowing, your boat will sit stagnant; though never still. . . always ebbing and flowing with the tides and undercurrents below. You will have no control over where you will end up. You will be at the mercy of the air that surrounds you and the water that keeps you afloat. Take to the oars. Gain control over your boat and make things happen. Even if you don’t know the direction, take to the oars. Progress is progress – and progress (even in the wrong direction) is better than waiting for the wind.

Today, I took to the oars of my boat. This boat is pirated only by me. It’s made of splintering wood and has been patched with glossy planks at different intervals of its journey. Each shiny new plank reminding me of a journey past. Each polished piece showing me a reflection of myself – and truthfully, there are times when this reflection catches me by surprise. Sometimes, I swear I can see myself the way the boat builder who repaired the broken section does…broken and beautiful.

Sometimes, in order to get where you want to go, you have to backtrack and start new. Today gave me an opportunity to do just that. Sometimes we sit, passive to the circumstances around us, waiting on incidents to dictate our interaction with other people. Now and then, those incidents come and it’s just not ‘your’ day. You are moody, you are brash, you don’t care as much as you should… and so this interaction becomes a nuisance rather than anything that could be considered productive. So what perhaps was supposed to be the start of something built on bricks, actually ends up being something build on sand. If you’ve ever seen the tide overtake the laborious work of a child, then you will know that anything built on sand will not last.

Since then, I have been waiting for the wind to serve – flowing and receding with the tumultuous currents below; patiently watching each sunrise through sunset for a glimpse of a change to the weather. No such luck. So today, with my heart as the map I followed, I took to my oars. I revisited the sandbar that I had started to build something I could no longer recognize. I knew that my labor was in vain and I needed a more solid place to sand. So today, I took to my oars and sought out a place to build a foundation of bricks. I found one. . .one that will, hopefully, withstand erosion.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
~Matthew 7:24-27

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