One ship sails east, another sails west – choose your direction in life

Plus – 11 things we (mostly) don’t have to worry about anymore

Benjamin, my seven-year-old grandson, and I memorize poetry together. Last week we memorized two stanzas of Ella Wilcox’s poem, “One Ship Sails East”. Benjamin’s father, Jonathan, is teaching him how to sail, so throughout his life the nautical themes of this poem will be reinforced. 

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
’Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Here are some lessons I want Benjamin to learn from this poem.

      1. Life is unpredictable. Just as a sailor cannot predict which way the wind will blow, we can’t predict what each day will bring.
      2. You can’t control the wind, so don’t fight it. It is futile to try to change things we have no control over. For instance, we had no choice as to our family of origin. Accept the unchangeable. 
      3. You do have a choice as to how you respond to life’s twists and turns. Just as a sailor can use the same wind to go in four different directions, we can respond to life in various ways. Take responsibility for what you can do.
      4. Choose your direction; set goals; don’t just drift through life letting the “winds and waves” take you to random places.
      5. In life, sometimes, there is no “wind” so don’t be put off by periods of repose. Know when to aggressively pursue and when to accept stillness.
      6. Basic life skills are indispensable. (Continuing the nautical metaphor, a good sailor has mastered good sailing skills, then uses them in all types of weather and situations.)

Choose your path and navigate through whatever type of weather comes your way.

Here’s an interesting and encouraging article published by Lifehacker, an online information site – Eleven Things We (Mostly) Don’t Need To Worry About Anymore.

We hear lot’s of discouraging news these days. The article lists 11 things in our society that are much better than before. Read and enjoy.

10 Replies to “One ship sails east, another sails west – choose your direction in life”

  1. One of the more significant books I’ve read in the last few years has been Factfulness by Hans Rosling, of TED Talks fame. He shows over and over and over with facts, not twisted stats, that the world is significantly better off that it has ever been as far as human condition and accomplishments. Nothing is in the book concerning sin and moral depravity in terms of a solution (that would be the gospel), but his book undergirds your points and the slideshow well.

    1. Thanks, Allan, for responding. I’ll read Rosling’s book. Another book,The Better Angels of Our Nature – Why Violence Has Declined, makes the same point.

  2. I always enjoy your articles, but this one hit home so much more for me today. These are excellent lessons for Benjamin to learn based on this poem and I know there are other teaching moments you have provided. Sometimes grown-ups need to be reminded of these same pearls of wisdom as we move through our day-to-day tasks. It is easy to get distracted and we forget we have little to no control over the things that enter our lives however if we have mastered good life skills, with Christ we can face all situations.
    Thank you for another great lesson.

    1. Thanks, Sarah, for taking the time to write. You’re right, we often need to be reminded of important truths. Learn and relearn. Take care. Don

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