SOS-ocean-currentThere are some things that are different about life at sea than the life that we are so used to experiencing here on the land.  The lack of discernible and reliable landmarks can be disconcerting for some out on the seas.  The danger of not being able to survive in the water for days on end without the assistance of a vessel underneath you to simulate the land and to give you a buffer from the depths below, can cause anxiety.

One characteristic that makes living at sea different and unpredictable is the idea that where ever you are located there is a current at work.  There is no such thing as standing still.  The waters are always in motion going somewhere.  Standing still will lead to drifting along.  You might not expect or even particularly like where the waters will guide you.  If you do nothing, you will still end up somewhere.

On dry land we don’t notice it.  You can sit down in a public place and “people watch” (oh, please tell me we all do this – I’m not the only one!).  You see the stream of humanity at a mall or airport and think about those who catch your eye.  Where are they going?  What kind of life are they having?  Would we have anything in common?  Would I be able to understand what they’re going through?  Whatever your thoughts, you can stay in that place and observe.  You won’t be moved.  There is a concept of “there” or one called “stationary”.

Our life experience is more like that of the sea.  Events and time change things.  Nothing stays the same.  Even in old places where I used to live the trees have grown up and people have made decorating choices that leave the place with a very different feel.  Even though all the places are “stationary” they have changed.  And I have changed in my thinking and the way I look at them.  It’s familiar, but it’s all different.  The current of life (maybe just of time itself?) has altered what was, or maybe I’m different and my perception is altered by who I am at this time.  Yeah, it can get that philosophical just that fast.  So there has to be a point, right?

First there’s the hurdle of knowing this to be true.  I think if you look at it you’ll see or feel the pull of the current of life (er, time).  So what can you do about it?  Precious little.  But can that knowledge be used to your advantage?  I would say yes.  Let me give a couple of examples.

For one thing, stressing about change turns out to be pretty futile.  Things are going to change.  Embrace the idea and it will definitely go easier for you.  Fighting the current may be a good work out, but it’s not a good long range plan.  Doing this is like complaining about the weather.  People love to complain about the weather, but nobody ever does anything about it (sorry Mr. Twain).  It is going to change, incorporate change into your thinking and some of the resistance you face will evaporate.  Things are going to be different, because that’s how things are.

Of course our desire is that things change for the better.  It turns out there is something we can do about that.  Knowing that change is going to happen we can leverage it.  We can know that although we missed that last wave, another one will be coming.  We can gather our strength and orient our ship to take advantage of the next one that is inexorably coming along.

Later on I’ll talk about some things we can do to get oriented to leverage the current that is already there and pulling at us.  But just recognizing it can change our outlook in the present and help us in planning for the future.  Look for the current, if you can’t see it, you can see it’s effects all around.  Heighten your awareness – look around.

If you know a change is coming, how do you get oriented to take advantage of what’s coming anyway?