Hey. I see you. I know what’s going on over there in your boat. I know you think nobody else has noticed. But I have. I see the leaks. I see the rising water around your ankles. I see you bailing furiously without stopping. I see the panic in your eye. The weariness. The hopelessness.
I also know the frustration and failure you feel at all the well-intentioned advice/encouragement floating to you across the water. Buy these new, handmade, organic sails! Make sure your children are taking time to enjoy the view around them! Learn these wonderful old sailing tunes to whistle as you work! Don’t forget to take pictures of the places you travel!
It makes you feel like nobody really gets it. Nobody knows that you are in trouble here. Their words are absolutely irrelevant and unhelpful in this moment when you are SINKING.
But I see you. I notice.
So, here are my words to you. Keep going. Keep bailing. Keep moving your bucket. Don’t worry about what’s going on around you.
Because what you don’t know, what you can’t see from here– is that there is an island coming up. It’s small, nothing fancy– just a bit of land that you can pull your boat onto, and make some repairs. Patch the holes. Stitch the sails back together. It’s not far, I promise. You just have a little farther to go, and then you can rest your arms. You can breathe. You can look around at the beautiful view. You can take a picture of it, even.
Look, I don’t know if you’ll ever have handmade, organic sails. I don’t know if the holes ever get patched all the way. I’m not going to promise you there’s a yacht with your name on it. But I know this: just when you don’t think you can keep this thing above water another minute, there’s an island not too far away.
‘Cause I’m not the only one who sees you.
Somebody else did, long before you even set out on this journey. He knew the limits of your endurance. He knew the size of your boat, the width of the holes, the weight of the bucket. He knew all that, and grew an island just where you needed it. The current carries you from one island to the next, and that’s no accident. Until one day, when you can’t possibly expect it, you will reach the mainland. And there, nobody needs a boat at all. Yachts, rowboats, canoes, and rafts of flotsam and jetsam… they are all docked, for all time. It doesn’t matter how you get there. A boat’s no good on dry land.
One last thing, then we’ll both get back to bailing.
Your arms, they are tired. But friend– they are strong. Look at them. What seems like an endless, fruitless battle with the water has changed you, has made you better. You are sunkissed, windblown, and amazing.
Your boat may be leaky, sailor. But your spirit is sound.
A fellow boatsman