The Tourist’s Dilemma

“A good seaman weathers the storm he cannot avoid, and avoids the storm he cannot weather” – Unknown

There was a town, of no small size, that was located by the sea. There were merchants, craftsmen, tradesmen, and, as you can imagine, a number of townsfolk who made their living by fishing, as had their ancestors.

(You will remember this town as it was the focal point of a previous post, The Fisherman’s Dilemma, here.  Let us return, sometime later, as it becomes the focal point for yet another dilemma).

The economy had begun to recover and many traditional jobs returned.  The town had also taken on a quaint aurora and begun to attract tourists and vacationers, drawn by the sea.  This spawned new opportunities to cater to their interests.

Dropping by the Visitor’s Center, a tourist inquired, “We’d like to spend a day on the sea.  Can you recommend any options?”

The host replied, “There are a number of places in town that provide sailing adventures, and they’re all good.  But if you want an experience for your life, try Crusty Jim’s.”

“Great!  Thanks!”

The following day, by chance they crossed paths again.

“Did you take an excursion?  Who with?”

“Yes,” came the reply, “with Crusty Jim’s.”

“And how was it?”

“Hard to say.  We’re still not quite sure.  There was so much information.  He kept up a constant chatter, pointing out this, that, and the other.  It was almost overwhelming.  Almost no chance to take pictures, or really relax.  He did have a smile and a twinkle in his eye, though. Today we just need a break.”

“Yep, that sounds like him.  Any particular memories?”

“Well, before we even left the harbor, he says, ‘A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.  Let’s go experience the sea!’  Then he put us to work.  Untie this, coil up that, loosen this, tighten up that!”

“Uh, huh.  I am suspecting there’s more.”

“Indeed.  Told us more than I thought we’d signed up for.  First, there’s the tide.  ‘It rolls in, and rolls out, and even if we know it’s coming we can’t control it, but we do have to sail through it.’ “

“If there’s a first, there must be a second…”

“Oh yes.  ‘There are rocks and shoals, hidden in a rising tide but revealed when the tide is ebbing.  You always need to know where they are.  Tide’s ebbing.  Keep a sharp eye.’ “

“And … ?”

“And on it went.  ‘Tides and shoals cause currents.  These might be predictable, but can’t be known exactly.  They are only seen by their effects.  Watch how the surface of the waters move, and tell me which way you think the current’s moving.’ “

“My, he’s got you nearly sailing by yourself.”

“Oh, he suggested that later, but not before he had us also reading the wind.  ‘You can’t see it, but you can sense its effects in your face, in your flags, and on the water. “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” Tighten the outhaul and watch the telltales!’ “

“Wow, you’ve picked up a lot.”

“No, I just followed orders.  The kids picked it up, though.  He told them, ‘Life’s just like sailing.  You always have to be aware of conditions.  You also have to know yourself, just as you have to know your boat.  You have to recognize conditions, your boat’s characteristics and capabilities, and adjust course appropriately.  Takes time, practice, effort.’ “

“Would you go out again?”

“The kids would, but I don’t think so.  I think I’m one who would like to sail only when the wind is calm, the sun is shining, the tide is in and the water’s smooth.”

“Yeah, we’d all like vacations like that.  It’s always nice in life to take a vacation, but a vacation isn’t always Life.”

Consider …

Somehow there’s another point, probably this one: it’s rare that we like to ‘sail’ alone, so there are no doubt others along for the ‘outing.’  They’re either crewmates and helping, or they’re along for the fun, not knowledgeable. In either case, we’re ultimately responsible for them, too, as well as for ourselves.

Life: Finding Purpose (your why); developing Process (your how); and then Passing it on.


About Jim Edmonds

I am a husband, father, mentor, who once was a chemist turned physicist turned marketer turned executive turned missionary turned professor. And survived it all.
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