Thursday, March 13, 2014

On Sailing Ships

An epic moment came back to me this morning while taking a shower. {That's where all the best thinking happens, by the way.}

My senior year of high school I broke up with my boyfriend. I was preparing to head off to college and after months of listening to him tell me he wasn't good enough for me, I realized he was right. I broke it off and moved on. Months later, while home from school on break, I saw him at a party. He begged me to take him back.

"That ship has sailed." I responded, and left the party.

All these years later, that moment has stuck with me: I had the right words in that moment. It was memorable because that doesn't happen often for me. The ship had sailed. I moved on. And it was time for him to do the same.

It's an interesting thought, those ships. How many times in life do they sail away, leaving us stranded on the beach wondering what happened?

How many times has a ship sailed away without you noticing? So often we're dragged out to sea, holding for dear life to a rope that no longer belongs in our hands. I like to think that we'll always, in some way, be tethered to the things that have escaped us. The problem lies in our inability to fully let go. Perhaps it's denial. Or anger. Or simply an unwillingness to accept reality.

But that's easy for me to say--and much tougher for me to do. Letting go is really, really difficult. It hurts. It doesn't matter what it is: friendships, our youth, former successes, dreams we had for ourselves. Those things make us feel vulnerable in a way we'd rather not explore. They remind us of our inadequacy and that makes us uncomfortable. As humans, we HATE being uncomfortable. So, we do everything in our power to avoid it.

We hang on to sailing ships, even when they're sinking.

We avoid tough conversations with the people we love, because we don't want to hurt their feelings.

We even avoid our own truths just to save face. Things look cleaner on the outside that way.

But the thing to remember is this: your ships will sail, no matter what you do. Your past will sink further and further away until it's a distant memory. And the last thing you want to do is find yourself chasing something that doesn't exist.

So, what are you still chasing?

"So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." -F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

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