Taking Twain’s mantra to heart

In general terms I do not like ants. They show up inside the house where they are not welcome, and on occasion there is the one ant that is so much bigger than I expect and it freaks me out.
On the other hand, ants also fascinate me and I have great respect for their fortitude in the world.
Their load restrictions are bar none, they have incredible focus, and despite formidable and recurring odds, ants don’t dally. They strive to rebuild a world they want to live in. They don’t lie at anchor or drift in life when things get messed up.
They are captains of their own ships.
There comes a time in our lives when we have difficult decisions to make in order to get where we really want to go. The winds of change affect us all. How we make it through these often-stormy times depends on the set of our sails.
My very favourite author, Mark Nepo, wrote, “Discovering who we are is like breaking a trail up the side of a mountain. Yet the deepest friendships begin when we look into the eye of another and discover that they have been there, too.
We carry whole worlds within us as we brush by each other in the supermarket to read mayonnaise jars. The entire drama of life churns in our blood as we rush underground to catch a train.
“We are always both so known and unknown.”
If a few months ago someone had predicted that come summer, besides having a very happy heart, I would be learning how to sail and be in a sailboat race at the same time, I would have said they needed new batteries for their crystal ball.
But who am I to roll my eyes at what’s in store for me. My beliefs in the Universal Plan are well-known. It swallowed me whole in January and then challenged me to carve a new path to the peak—and carried me some—to re-emerge stronger and into a beautiful open sky.
I discovered once again that taking chances is worth it, and I also learned a little more about what it really means to live in the moment when I took part Saturday in the Rendezvous Yacht Club’s annual “Mermaid Rock Regatta” as a very green crew member of the “Morning Dove.”
I had the time of my life navigating and watching the sails tighten close to the wind as I learned to coexist with Mother Nature.
And I have a whole new respect for the wind (or lack thereof) and the sailors who venture out in “egg-fry-on-sidewalk” heat to sweat navigate an often dead calm course purely for the love of the game.
The lessons I learned were many and most of them could be applied to life as much as they relate to the art of carving out a workable sailing path with the lake wind.
Little did my captain know that his shipmate teetered on making an appearance that morning at the docks as she paced back and forth in front of the mirror making petty excuses on why she should stay home.
I kept trying to start my inner trolling motor. I’d get it going a little bit and get on track, and then it would quit and I was paddling and paddling and having trouble getting to Point ‘B.’
It was all about anxiety and my comfort zone, and it sickened me. I realized that my comfort zone, where everything was predictable and I was always safe at home, meant that if I didn’t take chances, I would have no beginning, no middle, and no end to the story of how I came back to life.
Tony Robbins is right. “If you change nothing, nothing changes.”
And as I was sitting on the boat that day fully present in my happiness, I looked over and my captain was looking at me and was grinning, too. I wanted to stand up and recite to the seagulls from the poem “Invictus.”
“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul!”
Mark Twain penned, “20 years from now, you will be disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the one’s you did. So throw off the bow lines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails.
“Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Someone very special to me has Twain’s mantra on the wall in his office, and by all accounts it holds some of the best advice I’ve yet heard.
Sail on.

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