Day 159: Trim

I’ve been thinking about “the wind” today….

There’s a passage in Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” where he draws upon a metaphor from sailing:

The voyage of the best ship is a zigzag line of a hundred tacks. See the line from a sufficient distance, and it straightens itself to the average tendency. Your genuine action will explain itself, and will explain your other genuine actions. Your conformity explains nothing.

What I like about this passage is this image of a wind that guides our course, even if our ship may appear to be pointing in the “wrong” direction at any given moment. The truth is, Emerson contends, the only measure of whether or not we are “on course” is our ability to ride on that wind.

So I’ve been reflecting on this image today, and thinking about how each of us goes about discerning the wind’s direction. Call it spirit, call it a leading–call it what you will: but ultimately, it is that which is calling you.

It’s easy to feel the strong gusts. More often than not, however, I feel more like I’m licking a finger and waving it in the air, trying to catch the slightest breeze….

Fortunately, we don’t have to wait for the trade winds to find our heading. I’ve had very little experience on a sailboat of any size, but I do know this: what may seem like just a hint of a wind can lead a ship forward, as long as it fills the sails. And sometimes all it takes is a minor adjustment to catch that wind.

All of these nautical and meteorological reflections brought me to a point of query, which has remained with me throughout the day:

What am I doing–right now–to trim my sails?


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