Monday, July 21, 2008


I wonder if I could “ride” my thoughts the way a sailor rides the sea. There’s certainly no doubt that thoughts are constantly flowing along in my life, in a way that’s surprisingly similar to the currents of the sea. Thoughts come and go the way ripples and swells come and go in the ocean. Just this morning, as I was eating breakfast I suddenly found myself carried away by a wave of thoughts about a long-lost friend. If I had been on a “voyage” somewhere, I would have abruptly discovered that I was far off course because of the power of these thoughts. Now, an efficient sailor doesn’t let this type of thing happen. A sailor, first of all, continually watches the sea and the wind, so that he can better predict what will happen and more competently handle whatever situation arises. Also, a good sailor always works with, never against, the waves and winds. She knows that resisting the conditions of the sea can lead to disaster, but cooperating with them, and somehow taking advantage of them, can produce profitable results. This kind of approach is what enables a sailor to truly enjoy the sea, no matter what the conditions. He looks upon the sea, not with fear, but with respect and appreciation. He probably smiles a lot as he maneuvers his boat on the whimsical waves and currents. This, I think, would be a fine way to live with my thoughts. If I vigilantly observe them as they come and go in my life, I’ll get to know their strength and tendencies, and won’t be so apt to get swept away by any of them. More importantly, I need to remember to work with my thoughts and use them to my benefit. Instead of resisting and standing firm against this or that thought, like the sailor I need to simply observe the thoughts as they approach, see how I can use them, and then perhaps just let them pass peacefully by, like the endless swells on the sea. If anxious or frightening thoughts approach, I can watch them coming, make my preparations, and then “turn the sails” a little this way or that to allow my life to move harmlessly, and perhaps even more smoothly, along. What this might lead to is a greater enjoyment of life. If I can perch high on the “deck” and get a clear view of the endless variety of thoughts in the mental sea we all live in, surely I will be better able to appreciate and take pleasure in them, whatever size or shape or type they might be. Like the seasoned and secure sailor, I can smile and say, “Oh look at those huge fearful thoughts over there! Aren’t they beautiful?” or, “I see thoughts of regret approaching. Prepare to come about and we’ll ride on them nicely!” In this way, life, like sailing, could be an entertaining and pleasant sport.

-- first written in August, 2007

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