As I began to unfurl the mystery of life challenges, setting sail on inner voyages and journeys, I met whispers in the wind and howling gales. Plying my way through inner straits and open ocean, with at first a small crew to keep lookout, haul on the lines and follow the chart, lighthouses of love and support kept me off the rocks. I never knew what the weather would bring, be it calm seas, whitecaps, or deep swells, but there was always a fleet to bring libation and sustenance.
The thing about these journeys was they didn’t always go smoothly. In fact, the threats of ending up on the rocks was constant. Thick banks of fog hampered visibility, and becoming becalmed and immoveable did happen. The one constant was following the wind. Keeping the sails full, whether I was beating up into the wind, running close hauled, or plowing with the seas, winds behind me, the force of nature pushed me along. The wind moved me while the rudder steered until I was led safely to harbor and home.
Working with the wind takes seamanship, training, and experience. You can’t just jump onto the deck of a windjammer or any smaller sailing vessel for that matter and expect to make it from dock to dock without knowing how to tie a bowline, half hitch, clove hitch, and a handful of other knots. And you’d best know how to handle the sails in all weather conditions.
Once I was fully provisioned and safely out of port, my journeys followed waymarks, but instead of points of land and navigational buoys, I followed feelings. At the beginning of the voyage they sometimes got rough when the winds whipped up, but with a sound hull, we plowed onward. Every voyage had its ports of call where I came face to face with my inner child.
Peering through a looking glass, I saw not forward in front of me, but into the past. I saw past journeys of being stranded or dashed upon the rocks. I heard the wails and cries of the wind as my inner child was left behind. As life abandoned her. I saw her curled into the fetal position, cowering in the corner, and raging against the world.
Attempting any rescue, there are precautions that must be made. Once I spotted the girl in distress, I had to approach with care and openness, and coax her to share her tale of woe. As she was able to once again engage her voice, which had long ago been silenced, I began to recognize her messages of pain.
That’s not fair.
You left me. You abandoned me.
There’s something wrong with me.
It’s my fault.
I’m broken. I’m defective.
I’m fat. I’m ugly.
I’m used goods.
I don’t trust you.
Looking through a child’s eye view, the scope of their looking glass is very narrow. They only see what’s directly in front of them. They have no depth of knowledge or experience to recognize that the swirling on the surface of the water means fast running currents beneath.
When they’re caught in a tempest, they don’t know enough to reef the sails or even lower one or two. They plow along until the sails begin to tear and flap uselessly in a gale. Or their rudder breaks, leaving them victim to the sea. They don’t know about rationing supplies when winds leave them becalmed offshore, extending a voyage by weeks, and they wither away.
They just don’t know. And what’s worse, they don’t know that they don’t know.
In so many ways, the child inside us becomes stuck in their journey. Stranded on the rocks. Waylaid by a storm. Left adrift by equipment failure. But they’re never completely lost to us. They’ve just detoured a bit, becoming stuck in eddies, circling endlessly around and around singing their songs of woe, going nowhere.
Once I came upon the little girl and heard her tale of woe, she was comforted by knowing she was no longer alone adrift. Witnessing her became her lifeline. Seeing her and acknowledging her pain buoyed her. Knowing she was no longer abandoned, left adrift, often times all it took was teaching her how to mend her sails, or bringing her a new rudder.
From time to time, when my block and tackle didn’t have enough purchase for the task at hand, divine assistance did the heavy lifting. Like magic, my inner child let go of the anchor around her neck, slipped loose from the granny knots binding her hands and feet, and spit out the dry hardtack gagging her. Once freed from her shackles, I saw the little girl morph in front of my eyes as fog rolled away revealing the entire horizon, and her spyglass widened, now able to see not only the waters right in front of her, but down through the depths as well.
Once mired down by her own beliefs, set on course with new sails, a keg of rum, and confidently singing sea shanties, the girl became a woman able to take on whatever came her way. Her hull clean of barnacles, lines tight, the compass pointing true, and with her crew by her side, she could now take on the world.