I’m sure you’ve heard the African proverb, “Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors,” in some iteration or another from various sources. It’s used to illustrate, either literally or metaphorically, that the calm seas we encounter don’t require exceptional skill to navigate. When applied to our lives, I like to think of it as a time when things are going well for us. Maybe we’ve landed the perfect job, or we’ve reached a fitness milestone we’ve been working toward for months – whatever it is, it’s something that represents a perfect sunny day with crystal clear waters just asking to be explored.
But, what do we do when clouds begin to cluster along the horizon? Well, they’re not always noticeable at first. One lone puffy white cloud can instantly turn into a wave of ominous thunderheads when we’re not looking, and, before we know it, we’re hit with a torrential downpour. With this comes choppy waters and deafening thunder. This is the moment, according to our trusty quote, that we’re meant to become skillful sailors. This is the moment we’re meant to give everything we’ve got to overcome any obstacle we face and make it safely to shore. But, it’s not always that easy.
Sometimes the storms we face will be doozies. They’ll rip our sails; they’ll splinter our masts; they’ll cause us to take on water. We’ll probably even get to the point where we’d rather sink than fight to keep afloat. I know I’ve been there. Heck, I’m even battling some storm as I type this post, but I choose to keep fighting even on the days I don’t want to. Why? Because I’m not doing this alone. And you don’t have to either.
You see, most ships are better maneuvered with a crew, even if it’s a small one. These are the people who are going to help you keep things tied down and above water until you reach the shore. You could be the most skilled sailor on the water, but without a little help, those skills may not be enough to get you through. So, with that in mind, don’t be afraid to ask for help when things get hard. The right people won’t hesitate to give you a hand.
Smooth seas may not make skilled sailors, but don’t forget to enjoy the sunshine while you have it and to learn from the storms when they come. Going through life fearing chaos will only lead to unnecessary stress but being prepared will help the building waves seem less frightening. So, keep your crew close and your head high. You’re going to make it through this. The shore is just on the other side.