I am not afraid of storms,
for I am learning how
to sail my ship.
~ Louisa May Alcott
Although storms are exciting to watch from the safety and warmth of home, being out in them is often another matter. Most people run for cover when a storm approaches, seeking safe harbor from the wind, the wet, the cold, the thunder and lightning. Even more challenging is being in a boat on the water during a storm. Boats of just about any size get tossed around by the wind and waves, making the sailors acutely aware of the awesome ( and often awful) power of nature!
Life can feel the same way. Most people prefer their lives to be generally calm and peaceful, with some excitement and challenges of their own choosing. Yet throughout life, circumstances and events will occur and appear, unbidden, which may turn your life upside down or inside out.
You may be confidently living your life, with varying degrees of experience in sailing your life's ship, with practices such as journalling, mindfulness, yoga, meditation, a spiritual practice, some creative endeavors such as art or dance and maybe being in therapy.
Yet just as it's easy to sail a boat in calm weather, the true tests in life comes when the storms hit. Can you maintain your equilibrium and keep doing
( and trusting in) your practices, to guide your ship through the storm? Or do you get thrown off-balance ( or feel like you are tossed overboard and need someone to throw you a life-preserver)? Peaceful, calm weather provides an opportunity to sharpen and perfect your sailing skills, so when the storm does hit, you are confident that you have the skills to weather the storm, to sail your ship through the turbulent waters as the captain of your vessel.
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Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley