I am not on your ship.
Feel free to rock the boat, to sail unabashedly into the storm and get tossed by the waves. To whistle a tune of denial while slouching comfortably and nonchalantly as the holes in your ship let in a deluge of water while you use your bailing bucket as a seat. Let your sails become increasingly ragged as the breeze slips through ripped fabric and the landscape remains unchanged. Consume your provisions with abandon, knowing as much as the rats in your hull about the time between now and next landfall. Stare wistfully out at sea as your ship drifts through uncharted currents. Make your journey that of a tragic hero sailing into martyrdom. Use self-pity as justification to sail into the next storm. After all, I am not on your ship.
Though it may sometimes feel as though we are trapped in a life with someone else at the helm, someone who is determined to sink the ship, in reality we are all captains of our own ship. At times our ships may sail together, embarking on a shared journey. At other times it may be best to drift apart.
Consider the people who sail around you, who share in the journey with you.
Do you find yourself blaming others for the direction you choose to steer your ship? Are you the martyr in this story?
Do you judge others for the path they choose? Do you sometimes fantasize about boarding their ship and taking the helm? Are you the hero in this story? Perhaps you have even attempted to seize control of someone else's ship only to discover that you were locked in a losing battle, fighting against elements beyond your control.
Sometimes there are storms we cannot avoid.
There are some things we cannot control. We can not always avoid the storms. We may inadvertently end up off course. We may not even have everything we need to repair our ships. But we can choose our travel companions. Do the people you choose to travel with treat you with respect and kindness? Do they offer support and help you to repair your ship when it is damaged? Do their goals and values align with yours? Or are they causing the damage? Are they pulling your ship apart?
Are they dragging your ship down?
Sometimes we follow someone else's ship into storm after storm, coming out the other side feeling battered, spending our time bailing water and patching holes. The bright horizon you set your sights on fades into the distance and you increasingly feel more resentful, hopeless, and lost. Perhaps in desperation you lash your ship to theirs in a futile attempt to stabilize both ships.
Sometimes we drift apart.
The truth is, no matter the relationship or the shared history, we each have to take responsibility for our own journey. At times, we may choose to chart different courses, meeting back up on the other side of the storm. We may realize we've been attempting to head to different destinations and unintentionally sailed in circles. If we decide to travel in different directions, we must part ways. Sometimes we cannot prevent someone else from sinking their ship. We must cut ties to prevent our ship from being pulled down with theirs.
The key to smooth sailing is to acknowledge and accept that each person is autonomous.
In relationships, we should not seek to steer the other person's ship. Instead we should seek to connect. We do this by sharing. We share big fish stories, we weather storms together, we share provisions. We accept. All the scars, the rough edges, the things that make us human. We relate. All the times we have steered our ship into a storm while others tried to send us warning signals we did not heed. And the times when we were lulled by the siren's song and someone came along to tie us to the mast and hold us accountable. We all have stories. We are all inexperienced in some way, sailing imperfect ships.