- michelle m. davis
I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.
LOUISA MAY ALCOTT
Summer storms have always fascinated me. As a child, our family spent time at Porters Lake, located in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. I remember standing with my mom by the sliding glass doors, watching as the ominous clouds darkened the skies above the mile-long lake. Sometimes the wind would pick up, causing the tall trees lining the lake’s shore to sway back and forth as white caps formed on the water’s surface. Yet, there were also situations when a weather change suddenly appeared out of nowhere, interrupting our afternoon of waterskiing. In a sneaky, silent manner, a beautiful day by the dock transitioned from leisurely swimming to darting inside to avoid pelting rain. Before we knew it, we’d see streaks of lightening. Seconds later, the thunder would arrive. We’d time the seconds between flashes and bangs, predicting how close the storm actually was. The shorter the time span, the more thrilling it felt.
While I knew I was perfectly safe inside of our boathouse, there was always an element of danger whenever a summer storm descended. But instead of fear, I felt awe. It was as if the streaming rain, bright bolts in the darken sky, and thunder transported me to another world. One where magic lived, the unimaginable was possible, and uncertainty ruled.
As a child, not knowing how long it would be until the skies cleared did not bother me. I knew it was temporary and eventually the sun would shine again. Yet, the older I became, the more anxious I was when I didn’t knowwhat was next. No longer did I revere the indefinite—the uncertainty of tomorrow caused concern and unease.
Why are we immune to the fear of an unknown future when we are young, and when did we stop focusing on the wonder of it all?
I suppose that as children we rarely bother to project beyond the present. Then as we grow older, we spend less time in the moment and forget to be amazed by what is. Eventually, our busy lives distract us. We worry about where we are going, how we are going to get there, and what we’ll do once we arrive.
While this most likely is a natural process, life’s recent events seem to have catapulted our obsession about what’s next. The chaos of the past sixteen months has placed us in uncharted waters, causing some discomfort about returning to our daily life. We aren’t quite sure how this new way is supposed to look. Old and familiar method of doing things may not seem right, as what once worked may no longer fit.
So, how do we proceed?
It is absolutely fine if what we once relied upon no longer meets our current needs. In fact, if we are able to admit we do not have the answers, it can actually be pretty awesome—but only if we permit ourselves to see our present uncertainty as an opportunity instead of a threat.
If we are open to the unknown, now is the perfect occasion for transition, growth, and learning. This could be the exact impetus which helps us evolve into stronger, truer versions of ourselves. No doubt the question marks of today will challenge us in unexpected ways, requiring that we relearn how to sail our ships. Because what worked in the past may now be outdated or even irrelevant.
That’s why it’s important to incorporate new tactics, try out other vessels, and follow different maps. Perhaps we’ll be required to choose another type of boat. Or maybe what we once viewed as smooth sailing now has unseen currents lurking below. Our rivers may have narrowed, or the opposite, become quite expansive.
Regardless, today’s world is lightyears from 2019. We’ve landed in a new era—an unfamiliar landscape surrounds us, and the rules are changing quickly. Suddenly, it’s become our job to determine what adjustments we must make to navigate these uncertain waters. And many of us are at a loss at where to begin.
Change can be unsettling, confusing, or even scary. But what if we took a different approach? Instead of looking at today’s strangeness as a problem to fix, what if we altered our perception and viewed the current situation as a new canvas, one where we can create the picture we want to see?
By taking this approach, we become agents of change, not victims of circumstance. Consciously employing our free will, we choose what parts of our life we want to release as well as what we wish to keep.
Shifting perspective and exploring new ways does not imply we must scrap everything and start fresh. However, it does require that we reflect on our behaviors and then consider new ways of being and doing. It may be helpful to consider the following questions:
· Do you struggle to get out of bed in the morning? Are you sluggish, see life as a challenge a grind? Or do you see hope? Possibilities? Can you imagine a better tomorrow?
· Listen to your thoughts. How do you react to others who think differently? Do you make judgements and label them as wrong, or do you listen, wondering what’s to be learned?
· Examine your belief systems – are they yours or did you “adopt” them along the way? If you are unsure, consider what you really think. Take a pause to find your true north and then make the necessary adjustments in how you think, speak, and act. This is no easy feat, but the rewards are pretty awesome.
· Are you happy? If not, are you able to determine the cause of your discontent? Can you own your unpleasant emotions? Could you alter your thoughts, attitudes, or behaviors? (I’m deliberately not saying “fix”—instead, what changes can you make to bring yourself into alignment?)
· Do you like yourself? (This may be the biggest question, as most of us struggle owning all of our pieces.) What can you do to accept those aspects of you that aren’t so easy to love? If you can learn to love all of you, how do you think others will respond? What might change in your life?
No doubt we are at a critical point, the moment after the universal pause. This is the time for decisions and actions. It is a perfect opportunity to proceed on our paths with a renewed sense of conviction. Perhaps we’ve taken a detour, or even chosen a route that no longer makes sense. Regardless, this is the time to own our life and choose our next move.
We’ve lived through the storm. While it challenged us in so many ways, the skies are starting to clear, and the waters are beginning to calm. Would you like to shift gears in one or more areas of your life? After all, even the slightest alteration can make the biggest difference.
Our thoughts, actions, and beliefs are what shape our reality. How can you improve yours? What choices can you make to release fear, anger, and pain so that you can invite love, joy and happiness?
Now is the time. Make your decision. Sail your ship. Elevate.
Once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive … But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.