The ancients are often overlooked today. No, I’m not talking about grandma and grandpa! I’m talking about the first century BC. There was a young slave–captured in Syria and brought to Italy. This young man’s obvious gift for wit and his quick intelligence made him so popular that he gained his freedom and won a prize from Caesar in 46 BC
Syrus is best known today as the author of some 600 +/- sayings. Some of which are quoted often—even now . The sayings were like the punchline of the small vignettes called mimes (not silent) that were performed before thousands of adoring fans in competitions like the pop star contests we are used to today. The purpose of these mimes was to instruct in an entertaining way.
Perhaps my favorite of all his sayings is this one: “Any one can hold the helm when the sea is calm.” Pblilius Syrus
I have family members who make a living on the water. It is an outdoor life, an active life, a hard life but a rewarding one. This current situation probably mirrors our ancestors who lived in Scandinavia and spent years exploring the seas and we like to think they found the land of North America 500+ years before Columbus.
When you are on the water, there are things you can control. And there are very big things you cannot control. Wind, waves and weather are those really big things. My son on the Great Lakes likes to say “most people enjoy the gentle rocking of Lake Michigan” and adds a bit of a secret smile. My daughter on the blue water always reassures that she has her survival suit–the one that inflates when it hits the water–always at hand.
Dealing with those really big things can be very hard but heading into the wind and keeping the tiller still so the vessel continues into the wind is required to ride out the storm. That will take courage and strength, knowledge and skill. I guess that is what we all have to do when the big trouble comes. Head her into the wind and keep her there.
Our founding fathers knew this important truth too. They built-in ways for the tiller to be attended to and the ship to be kept afloat. Over time we have had to demonstrate our courage, strength, skill, knowledge repeatedly. Today is not really any different.
Today is our time, our turn to step up to the challenge. The big trouble, so much out of our direct control, demands us to make a choice. We can curl into a ball and hope the disaster will disappear or we can take the tiller and head into the wind. Muster the courage, strength, skill and knowledge that each of us has to offer. Face the big trouble enjoy the “gentle rocking” with a secret smile–remember the ancients and steer the course into the wind!