Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hanging on Every Other Sail

Life is exciting and thrilling for everyone but us, right?  So and so has greener grass, the Joneses have a bigger boat, etc. etc.  Isn't that how it sometimes seems?  I was startled to discover that one of my philosophic heroes, Ralph Waldo Emerson, also had occasional pity parties.  While reading his essay entitled:  Experience, I am learning that Emerson wasn't afraid to show a little cynicism, he who is usually very optimistic.  About ten pages in, he himself admits that  he had "set his heart on honesty in this chapter," apparently not wishing to sugar coat the realities of life and life's experiences.

My favorite passage is this:  Every ship is a romantic object, except that we sail in.  Embark, and the romance quits our vessel and hangs on every other sail in the horizon.  Our life looks trivial, and we shun to record it."
I had to laugh at this.  Isn't it the truth?  Why do others' adventures always seem, atleast outwardly, like smooth sailing and pleasant breezes, compared to our own storms and rough waters?   A few months ago I experienced the lifelong dream of sailing on a tall ship.  It is was beautiful; it was exciting to be in the middle of all the action; and it was FREEZING cold, something I had only moderately prepared for.  When its sister ship sailed gallantly past, in all its splendour at full sail, did I think of its own passengers, huddled together in the cold as we were on our ship, or did I focus on the romance of its masts and sails?  I saw what I chose to see, just like everyday I choose to see the roses in others' lives, while forgetting that they may also have a few thorns that they are dealing with.

A wise man I know remembers to look for the positives amid the setbacks.  He looks for the steadiness that may be accompanied by otherwise quaking hands.   And to Emerson's credit, he also recognizes that: "Life is a series of surprises, and would not be worth taking or keeping if it were not."

The true message here, though, is to claim your life, accept it, embrace it, and as Emerson insists, "record it!"  Our lives are exactly the perfect proving grounds for us, individually.  My trials are mine and I will take them, if God can foresee what I have yet to learn.  You enjoy your roses and your green grass and the romance of your ship.  I'll take the thorns and the weeds and the tempests that come my way.  Because they are building strength of character only yet to be discovered.


LeAnn said...

I loved your thoughts today and it helped me rethink on some of the things I do that I need to change. I find that I am always busy; but perhaps not with the important things. I also find that I don't often stopo and smell the roses enough. I hope to do just that. I love the thought to embrace our lives.
Blessings to you!

Laura said...

I needed to read this today. Thanks!

Kim said...

I always look at the greener grass instead of what I have. Not that I'm not grateful for what I have, but sometimes I don't appreciate it. Thanks for your post!