You can’t change the wind, but you can change your sail

This saying is true whether in a boat or life: "You can’t change the wind, but you can change your sail.”  What does it mean, and how does it apply to my life?  First will look at the word change and what that refers to.  Next will talk about wind and how that relates to the sail on the boat.  After we comprehend, I’ll share how this phrase can be interpreted and, if applied, will improve our lives daily. 

According to Merriam-Webster online, the word change is a verb and means, and I quote: “1) to make a difference in some particular: alter.  2) To make radically different:  Transform, 3) to replace with another, 4) to make the shift to another, 5) to exchange for an equivalent sum of money (as in smaller denominations or a foreign currency), 6) To undergo a modification, 7) To put fresh clothes or covering on.  Thus, change is something many are scared of doing, let alone thinking about, but why?

Why do people fear change or even hear the word change?  Some people are not afraid of being unsuccessful but are terrified of how powerful they may become that they sabotage themselves and never get there.  People also want to keep things the same. They fear anything new because they worry if they will like it or if it will be too difficult.  The last reason that people don’t enjoy change is that it is because they don’t believe they can, and as Henry Ford said many years ago, and I quote, “If you believe you can, you can, and If you believe you can’t, you are also right.”  Thus, believing makes whatever you believe so, but many don’t realize that till they experience its effects firsthand.

Whether you have sailed on a boat, been at sea on a cruise ship, or just stood outside by the shore, it is easy to feel the breeze of wind against your skin.  In fractions of a second, you can think about whether it is warm, cold, rough, or gentle.  One thing is sure no matter what you do; it won’t change how fast, cold or warm it blows through the outside air.  The wind propels sailboats; as we learn today, you can’t change the wind, but you can adjust your sail.

Skippers on their boats learn early or later that they must understand the wind speed and what direction it is coming from before they can be practical sailors.  Today many sailors and boatmen don’t know how to read the wind but rely only on technical gadgets to tell them.  One type of wind pattern is when it blows from the north to the south and is referred to as a north wind.  Directions of wind may change from day to day, hour to hour, or minute to minute; thus, one needs to have their pulse on the wind at all times.  To a sailor, the wind is like the north star in the sky that will lead them home.

Sound confusing, but not really. As one becomes involved with sailing, the experience, the surroundings, water, weight, speed, and wind direction becomes second nature.  True sailors don’t rely on technology to tell them where the wind is coming from.  Skippers of their boats rely on ancient sailors’ methods, and many fine ones still use them. 

Now there are several ways one can determine all they need to know about the wind, such as wetting your finger, holding it in the air, and being aware of the side that feels the coldest and dries the quickest, which will indicate the direction of the where the wind is blowing from.  Another way is to orient yourself where you believe the wind is blowing from and slowly pan your face till you notice it hitting your face.  Remember to pay attention to your ears. For example, if you hear more wind from your right ear, it is blowing from that side, and remember not to stand behind anything that will block the breeze of the wind.

Another great thing to do to see where the wind is coming from is to tie a piece of yarn to the tallest part of your mast and notice what direction it points when the wind hits it.  However, my favorite is to learn how to read the sail on your boat.  When you are in the winds, it is said that the ship is in irons or sailing into the wind.  When the boat is in irons, it doesn’t move, and the sail typically dangles over the center of the ship since you can’t sail into the wind and expect to move.  If the wind is hitting the side of your boat, you want to let the sail out till it just starts to luff and then pull it in touch.  Should the wind be hitting the stern of the boat, you should let the sail out until it luffs and pull in touch, which we call running.  Lastly, if your boat is sailing on the edge of the wind and it is hitting the boat on the very front sides of the boat, you are beating.  When you beat, it is crucial to pull the sail in as tight just before it luffs, is that you are wondering, no. 

When you sail a boat, you have to keep your eye on the wind, the position of the sail, centerboard as it gets lowered and raised at different sailing maneuvers.  Furthermore, the skipper has to have a gentle hand and make tiny movements that will affect the ability of the boat to sail.

Sailing a boat on the edge closest possible to the win and navigating the changing direction and speed is an art, but how does this relate to real life?  In our daily lives, we can’t change the wind, which refers to the fact that we can’t change others or how they react directly.  However, we can change the sail, implying that we need to change, not them but us.  If someone acts negatively toward you, it’s easy to say something, but how they respond or change will directly affect how you react.  Thus, state your peace and allow it to roll off, like water in the shower, down your back.

Many in life feel that to be powerful, they must control others, but it is in letting go, stating your terms, and allowing people to choose that you become a revered leader.  The more we allow it to happen will make the universe orchestrates things, events, and people to unfold in a manner that is best for all concerned.

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