A Rudderless Ship

Have you ever had the inescapable feeling that you no longer had any control over your own life? I’m sure you have, all of us have. Sometimes I can feel that way about my writing. Lately I’ve felt that way. When I share these thoughts with my writer friends they encourage me to stay the course and everything will work itself out eventually. I suppose that makes up for the times that I’m standing by their sides telling them the same thing.

Recently I have had a few issues I felt that way about in my personal life, as well as in my writing. I think it’s our own human perception of a situation which makes these situations worse than they really are. I know you can’t control everything, but sometimes I just want to reach out to the world and scream, “Give me that steering wheel. You’re getting us lost.”

I don’t know what it is about these times that makes us sadder than others. I think it has to do with our loss of control. We, as human beings, love to be in control. If you go to any workplace, you’ll see someone who is the boss. Then you’ll find the workers under them. Some of those workers can’t handle the idea of a vacancy at the top. Someone has to be in charge. There has to be clear direction. In other words, there has to be a captain in command and a rudder to steer the ship.

We have a painting at our house which was done by a good friend of ours. We have known her since she was a little kid and now she is almost a full grown adult. It’s a ship at sea. The sky is dark and demanding. The ship’s sails are full and it’s almost as if you could imagine the Captain ordering the ship away from the storm.

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Artwork: Alexis Fuller

How great would that be if we could just see the storms in our lives and order ourselves away from them? We can’t, of course. Many times we don’t see the storms until they’re right on top of us. We can only adjust course as best we know how and then try to make our way out of the storm.

In writing, as in life, there are times you feel like the rudder is gone, sails have all been shredded, and the Captain has been washed overboard with all of the navigation charts. You want to throw in the towel and hide below deck until the wind dies down.

Of course, you could just stay in bed and refuse to get up, but that wouldn’t do you any good. As much as you hate to do it, you have to get out of your hammock and head up those stairs to the main deck. The ship could be bobbing around like mad, but you have to hang on. Grab a rope, grab and oar, grab something and try like hell to make the ship go in the direction you know it needs to go. Yes, it is acceptable to puke over the side once in a while, but you have to remain firmly in charge of the vessel.

Often, it is a kind word or thought which signals the winds of change. Sometimes it is an opportunity you didn’t realize was going to be available. Relief from your own personal rudderless ship can come from almost any angle. But remember, as you may be going through your own storm, so too may someone else. It could be your kind word or gesture which brings them hope that the storm is about to end. Hope is a powerful thing.

No matter what your personal struggle is, just hang on and do the best you can. Eventually, likely when you least expect it, something will happen to get you back on course.

Your Humble Servant,

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