When the Sea is
Rough, Mend your Sails
Sometimes nothing seems to be working.
You’re between jobs. You’re
in a relationship desert. You’re
trying to get projects off the ground
is returning your calls. You should
be training for a marathon, but you’ve
your ankle. You’re longing to
move home, but deals keep falling
reached the stage where you would
even give up and go with the flow
could, but there is no flow.
Sometimes life is just like that.
If, when you look clearly at the situation,
you seem to be making the right moves
and the world isn’t responding,
be time to take the desperation out
of your voice and eyes and respond
deeper rhythm of events. You may have
entered a period of winter. Winter
terminal, it isn’t death. It’s
simply time to hibernate, to turn
your energy inward
and do your growing underground.
Westernized culture doesn’t
support hibernation. People lead global
24-hour lives where nothing ever sleeps.
TV, radio, news, transport, light,
internet all keep going like a funfair.
Nothing switches off any more and
life is full on, or seems to be, so
when it goes quiet for us it seems
like a violation of the
natural order, but it isn’t.
Outside the industrialized, computerized
world, whether you go back
in time or sideways into different
cultures, people understand the slower
rhythms of life much better than we
do. ‘To everything there is
a season,’ says
the Bible. Gardeners know it. Fishermen
know it. Sailors, farmers, nomads
it. If you look closely at your own
life you can see it too. The rhythm
Sometimes things flourish, events
pile up. Sometimes life feels as though
gone into slow motion, even stopped.
I’ve found that the way to
survive the little winters of life
is to keep working
but to reduce your activity and greatly
reduce your expectations. At times
it never works to force anything.
When the sea is rough, mend your sails.
ground is frozen, live off your harvest.
When you can’t take the herds
into the pasture,
give them hay and stay by the fire
and weave your rugs or mend your tents.
Assuming you’re not a fisherman
or a nomad, there are plenty of things
you can do in times of hibernation.
These are times for editing your possessions,
harvesting your resources, evaluating
your progress, learning new skills,
cultivating friendships, catching
up on reading or sleep, caring for
going within and reconnecting with
your dreams. There may be lessons
learned and now you have the time
to learn them. Your maps may need
redrawn and now you have the time
to redraw them, knowing all the time
the season and the energy will shift.
As spring follows winter, times of
inactivity are followed by times
where your feet don’t touch
the ground. A season in the wilderness,
happen to the most gifted, famous
and celebrated people, can quickly
call back to the market-place. And
when the call comes, you’ll
because one thing you do in times
of inactivity is keep faith with yourself,
abilities and your dreams. You keep
preparing, so that when the change
as it always does, you are ready to
respond. And the next time the signs
come round you can recognize and greet
them without fear.