How To Sail With A Cracked Compass And A Broken Rudder

Do you have any idea what you’re doing with your life?

Here’s a confession. Me neither. Most of us don’t.

Sometimes it can feel like trying to sail a tiny boat around the world in a force ten storm, with no maps, a cracked compass and a broken rudder. Oh and a huge hole in the ship’s hull that seems to be swallowing up the ocean at a thousand gallons a second.

Sometimes we have no idea what to do next, what not to do next, where to go, who to seek advice from, who to listen to, who not to listen to.

It all becomes a huge mess of external and internal noise and all we crave is some simple little book of instructions to find out what to do, how to take the next step, how to take the right step.

Ever been there?

I remember at University I went to see one of the counsellors as I was having a few struggles. I remember saying to the lady I was assigned to that when you’re a kid, you think the world is this big (making a grapefruit sized ball with my hands) and you know about this much (making a walnut sized circle with my finger and thumb).

Then as you grow a bit older, I continued, you realise that the world is actually this big (stretching my arms as wide as I possibly could) and actually what you know wouldn’t even cover a pinhead.

She looked even more confused than I felt. That was my one and only counselling session there.

Years later, I still think I know less than would cover a pinhead.

But I know that when I really listen, when I take the time and space to trust myself and really listen, I know what to do. I always know.

We all do.

Within us we each have a compass and a rudder. And they’re not cracked or broken. They’re indestructible, and always at the ready.

image: nullalux

Yes, sometimes they don’t seem to be working too well. But is that just because we’re not listening hard enough?

Is it because we don’t actually want to hear the truth, or face the reality?

I know that’s been the case for me in the past. The being honest with yourself option is not always the easiest option. But ultimately, it has to be the only option.

There’s an interesting quote by Erica Jong about advice:

Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn’t.

So what’s my advice, when the storms are battering your little boat and you feel like you’re drowning?

My advice is don’t take my advice.

Just listen to yourself. Deep inside, take a look at your compass, put your hand upon that rudder. You already know.

8 thoughts on “How To Sail With A Cracked Compass And A Broken Rudder”

  1. Of compasses and rudders,

    I’m thinking we can sail all those places we imagine if only we create a really good waterproof map AND put all those places and routes on it. The routes are probably more important than the destinations in keeping us focused and engaged.


  2. Thanks for your comment David. Yes a good map with inspiring landmarks for our adventure, plus the ability to be open enough with our minds and senses to enjoy those landmarks along the way, as well as any other unexpected ones we stumble across too!


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