“A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor”, I read the quote over and over again, each time picturing a nice peaceful beach with waves transcending over the sand as the waves oscillate from the shore to the ocean, ocean to the shore. Oh how I wish that could be, in a world of peace without boundaries, daily life without unfortune, and, of course, life with ease. As I read the quote once more, all the way to the end, it sets in. My image changes, extending out to the sea with a boat and a sailor. The sailor, strong and mighty, battles against the waves as a storm approaches with no shelter to avoid it. It is him and the sea, and that is just how it will be.
But that sailor, he has been here before, he has seen the waves, the wind, the power. His past showed him smashing the water, being flung from the boat, and hitting a literal ‘rock bottom’. He has felt his last breath and felt his first as he somehow survived and managed to make it through. He has had a severed line and a sail which had been punctured; he had a boat worth more in scraps than intact. He managed the repairs using all the resources he had, and making some up along the way. This time, though, the storm was different.
This time, the storm was multi-dimensional, ranging not only in winds from the west, but winds from the east. The boat appeared to be spinning and changing elevation as the sailor seemed to lose control. Nowhere to turn, no one to help, he almost accepted that these molecules of air he had worked so hard to keep around may be decreasing.
In this moment, he was in a state of illusion, feeling all the emotions. He thought about the things he wished he could have done other than board this ship. He had regret, for he could have taken the easier route or picked a better time to sail away from the safe shore. But then suddenly the water seemed to calm, the sky brightened, and the ship stabilized. He let out a sigh of relief.
In this state of gratitude, his state of fear and self-doubt turned from bad to good. This gratitude flickered as he became thankful for everything that showed up in his life. Suddenly, he is pleased for all the times. He is thankful for the storms as well as the smooth sailing. He is a sailor that got his title because of his experience; he was once an amateur, a beginner, who became skilled through hardship. He is an everyday human being who goes through the rough patches to realize the good patches. He is me, he is you.
Not every day will be good, but there is good in every day. Not every journey will come out as planned, but there is a plan in every journey. Your adventure is constant, with a final destination which may be finite and measureable to some, and malleable and changing to others. Whether you must go through hardship to find happiness, or hardship just makes the good times attainable, board your ship. The ship may have rough seas, a few damages along the way, but what do they say?
…A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.
-Happiness in Handfulls