“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.”
– Jim Rohn
Every week, I am beyond fortunate to get out on our sailboat with a crew of friends and race other boats around the local harbor and into parts of Narragansett Bay here in Rhode Island. It is a time my husband and I cherish, doing something that we both love and that has truly gotten into our blood.
Our boat’s name is Sans Souci which translates to “without worry,” and being on her makes me feel alive and really carefree. To me, there is no better feeling than to be sitting on the rail having the water lap up at my dangling feet as she cruises along swiftly and effortlessly, being propelled forward by the wind.
Recently while on one of our outings, I was thinking that sailing is an incredibly fitting metaphor for life, especially life with multiple sclerosis…
Like living with MS, it first seems like you are at the mercy of something that you have no power over. The wind, like multiple sclerosis, seems to have a mind of its own – often erratic and unpredictable, capable of changing on you in a moment’s notice.
The important thing to remember is that you have more control than you think. You learn the best ways to adjust and adapt to the varying conditions. You find ways to best handle and harness the elements. You work with the wind to achieve optimal performance rather than fighting against it, concentrating on what you can do to make it all better.
Some days you may have no wind but you can make modifications to keep moving forward. Sometimes, even with making all of the proper adjustments, you just can’t go any faster. You are at the mercy of the wind and just have to sit back and move at the speed it dictates. Just like with multiple sclerosis, you might not have the energy but you find ways to keep going – at whatever speed you can.
There are other days when it is extremely windy and you can feel completely out of control. Again, you need to make corrections – perhaps in the sail, perhaps in the direction you’re steering – all in an effort to make it as smooth as possible. It may not always go as you plan so you are constantly correcting, modifying, and adapting.
You eventually get to your destination but it is never a straight shot. You have to tack back and forth many times, going in several different directions before you reach your final port.
Like having a great health care team, strong care partners and family support, sailing requires many people to run the boat smoothly and efficiently. You need a team with excellent communication and support who work well together. It’s definitely a team effort, and there is always a member there should you not be able to do your job, or if you need a little help or assistance - in whatever it may be.
Finally, both sailing and living with MS, consist of a constant state of work and effort. You are constantly fighting the elements, adjusting and adapting along the way. However, there are rewards and you have moments of sheer bliss when you get it “just right” and there is nothing but smooth sailing.
The moral: Never give up! Keep adjusting those sails! We can do this!