“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” – Dolly Parton
I had never imagined Dolly Parton as a nautical person, but today’s quote is attributed to her. It is somehow appropriate, given that the Port Huron to Mackinaw Island sailboat race is this past weekend.
That cute little saying is a good metaphor for making the adjustments that we all need to make in life to deal with the winds of change that always swirling around us.
I’m not a sailor, so I won’t take this sailing analogy too far. I understand that it is possible to sail into the wind by tacking back and forth and that one can run with the wind by using the proper sail. Sometimes when the winds of life are blowing against us we have to tack back and forth, too; seeking a way to move ahead. Sometimes the wind is at our backs and we get to relax and enjoy things for a while. Many times we may feel like we are being swept along by the winds of change that are blowing through our lives. For the most part we need to constantly be aware of the winds around us in our lives and adjust our sails accordingly.
It is important to accept the first part of the little saying for today – we cannot direct the wind. Some people get really hung up on that, either trying to direct the things going on around them or wasting time lamenting those things that they cannot change. Stuff happened. The winds blow. We cannot change that; but, we can change how we react to the winds; we can adjust our sails.
Some sailors have instruments and some have sophisticated weather devices to help them “see” the wind directions around them. We have only our senses and our awareness to detect what is happening around us. Some of us are better at that than others. Have you ever known someone who seemed to be oblivious about what was happening around them? Have you ever been that person? Maybe you’re just the opposite and “see” things that appear to be happening around you, some of which may just be your imagination. The conspiracy-theorists see things that others can’t see and react to things that may just be imagined.
However the winds blow you need to be able to make adjustments to your sails, to how you react to those winds to stay on course. As you get older and wiser, you learn how to make those adjustments quicker and sometimes you learn that you can ride out many things without adjusting your sails at all. Not all things in life need or deserve a reaction from you. Some are best ignored. Many “incidents” in life may not be the slights or snubs or crises that you imagine them to be, but rather simple misunderstandings on your part or on the part of someone else. Adjustments are not required, just understanding or patience or both.
Here’s hoping that you have smooth sailing in the week ahead and don’t have to make a lot of adjustments to your sails. Enough already with the sailing thing!