Expectation and attachment are killers of a good time. When we cling to them, nothing that comes our way—no matter how lavish—feels like enough; but when we can let them go, every moment that life has to offer becomes an unexpected gift.
The culprits are those pictures we hold in our minds of how we want the world to be. We imagine the way people should react, how we should be treated, the way in which love should be communicated. We daydream about how we should look, where we should live, the type of job we should have. We paint those daydreams in vivid color and detail—either on purpose to define our intention, or to indulge our desires. The problems arise when our definitions become too rigid, and our desires too dominating.
I prefer a course to a plan—one that can be adjusted to ride the winds of opportunity. For me, plans bring up images of architectural blueprints. Pretty darn hard to build a house without them! However, if you’ve ever built a house you know that those plans are best changed in the early stages, before you break ground. Once the foundation has been laid, any change becomes a logistic and expensive nightmare. Don’t get me wrong, things can be changed. People do it all the time. It’s just expensive, difficult, and often wasteful. So, we tend to stick to the plan and disregard the better ideas that come along. We can save them for the next house, the next project. The next life?
A course reminds me of sailing. Sometimes, we’re headed somewhere specific and, other times, we just want to enjoy the sea—feel the salty spray on our face, the heat of the sun on our backs, the freedom of the wind. If it’s the latter, we may not want a course, at all. The pleasure may be found in the act of surrendering to nature and the whims of the moment. If we have destination in mind, then we plot a course—after all, the sea is vast and we could wander aimlessly if we didn’t have a sense of where we were, where we were going, and how best to get there.
The difference between a sailor’s course and an architect’s plan, is that a course is easy to adjust. It has to be. A sailor is subject to, and attuned with, the caprice of nature. Moment to moment adjustments are not dreaded, they are embraced. That is what makes sailing enjoyable—being one with the elements, moment to moment, receiving each condition (even the challenging ones) as a gift.