I am reading a novel now that is light and easy, and I daresay, rather stupid… yet I can’t put it down. Email me if you’d like the name, but I won’t promote or advertise the book, it’s way too silly. And yet, I came across a paragraph in the book that has stayed with me. Days later, I went back, searched my iPad to find that paragraph, and snapped a screenshot of the words on page 349.
So what’s on Page 349? On that page, the protagonist is talking with her aunt, whom she has just discovered has macular degeneration, which will soon lead to blindness (unfortunately, this is just a side story, not the point of the book.) “Do you remember when we read Little Women together?” the aunt asks her niece. And she reminds her niece of what Amy says in the face of difficulty:
“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.”
I haven’t read Little Women since I was a young girl, but I just may go back and read it again, because I can’t get that sentence out of my head. I mull it over, and over. “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship. I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship. I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship. “ It is becoming my mantra, especially when it is dark, and the winds begin to pick up and the rain comes down in buckets.
Mike and I have learned—and we are still learning– how to sail our ship. Storms at sea—even small squalls—where the weather can go from a calm and sunny 15 knots to a dark and rainy 30 knots, need plans. Hatches need to be closed. Sails reefed in. Jack lines need to have been set out. Durads turned around. Anchor pinned in, cockpit enclosures down, items secured below. PFDs and tethers at the ready. All hands on deck. When one knows how to prepare and control one’s ship, the storm is much less scary.
But long before we moved on the boat, Mike and I were learning to sail our ship. We got through the storms of raising (sometimes) imperfect children, sometimes disappointing career paths, deaths of three parents, a beloved sister-in-law, and cancer. We sailed through our hardships even when the seas were rough, getting through our storms with determination, resilience, laughter, compassion, the help of a caring family and community. We prepared, we were stoic, and we landed on the shore stronger and closer, more experienced to handle the next storm.
But despite the mantra, we will soon enter hurricane season. And that is a stark reminder that no amount of preparation will help if a hurricane hits. Sometimes life brings you a storm that you simply can’t prepare for, is so devastating that it wipes out plans and dreams. You simply pray that it doesn’t hit. Because if it does, you are simply left to pick up the pieces as best you can.
Storms, I can deal with, but I’m afraid of hurricanes, of every kind.
We will continue to learn how to sail our ship, preparing and toughing it out, as there will always be another storm. We will just pray that there are no hurricanes in our future…or in yours.