Tacking beats drifting when life blows against you

I don’t give into envy very often, but as much as I tried to describe the knot in my chest differently, it didn’t loosen until I did.

Truth sets you free. Even ugly truth.

Who did I envy? Not a who, but a collective what, a bunch of people who seem to roll sevens in life time after time. Guys like Buster Posey who win not one World Series rings, but three and an MVP tossed in to boot. Gals like Piper Kerman who write a book that does OK, but has a title that is pure gold and turns into a radically popular TV show. Not just the stars, but the kid whose idea goes viral and angel investors toss boat loads of cash at him or the blogger who writes about nothing and suddenly has a million subscribers.

In each case it’s earned. Most success stories don’t come from pure luck, even when it seems like that to us. Each person in this collective horde of my envy works hard and combines talent and opportunity for their big moment. I don’t begrudge them. I just want to join them.

But, I can’t deny it seems like the Universe smiles brighter on some. I envy that, I finally admitted.

Admitted to who? Barely to myself, then I mumbled it to God as well. Like this:

“What the hell?!!!”

I don’t mind the hard work, the rejection, the set-backs, the obscurity and the many stops and starts. I just want those occasional moments when the winds of life fill my sails and propel me to places I don’t expect. I want to feel blown toward the goals I have in life instead of so much time with an oar paddling away in what seems to be more like a circle than a line.

After admitting this frustration to myself, after bitching about to God, I eventually told a few people close to me. A few weeks back I checked in with a spiritual mentor. We discussed this new restlessness I felt as my life grew more busy, but less focused. She challenged me to view my life in a different way and to focus on things I hadn’t given enough attention.

I promptly went out and spent the next month in a complete funk doing nothing of the sort.

A month later she checked in, asking me how I’d done. I told her it was a struggle, but I was getting there. It took about 24 hours for me to realize I was full of shit. I hadn’t made progress, I had drifted. I put my oar down in a pout.

And that’s all it took. Honesty. The knot in my chest untied. The next morning I got up, rededicated myself to things proven to be important to my inner life. I made an intention of looking inward instead of outward. I made an intention of seeking God instead of running from her. I made an intention of productive work and balance with things like art and time with people and fun. I made an intention to be healthy again, inwardly and outwardly. Congruent.

Eleven days have passed. No wind fills my sails. But my mentor described it best: I am tacking, that sailing term of working the mast back and forth against the wind to make progress. It’s not near as fun as sailing, but it is headed in the direction I need to go.

For now, that’s enough. I can’t stir up the wind. I can’t control what I can’t. I can’t figure out why the wind hasn’t come yet. I can only keep the boat sailing instead of drifting, so that when God breathes into my life I am ready to take off.

Faith is knowing that the winds will come. Faithfulness is having the boat of my life in tip-top form so when they do, I will sail the bejesus of them in rip-roaring gratitude.

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One thought on “Tacking beats drifting when life blows against you”

  1. Love this! Honesty is good! Some of us are simply made for tacking. We get into trouble when we try to fill our sail with our own wind!! A good reminder for me! Thanks!

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