Life is like piloting your ship

An analogy. Living your life is like piloting a ship. You have to learn to avoid the rocks. If you do get holed you have to learn how to patch the hole and carry on. You have to learn how to manage a mutinous crew who may well lead you astray through excesses (your “id” if you like theoretical super-models); or just your desires. If you don’t have a destination in mind you will go round in circles, which is a bit pointless. Sometimes you may get becalmed for a while. In which case you need to seek out a favourable wind. In general the course has difficulties. No one makes a perfect pilot from the outset. And anyway the weather and state of the sea you are sailing in is largely beyond your control. Therefore it won’t all be plain sailing. Learning how to deal with the difficulties is part of the challenge. It’s fun. (And at any time and sooner or later your ship and you will suffer an ultimate catastrophe and will sink leaving only a temporary ripple).

Therapy takes a different attitude to the difficulties. It is an ideology. If you find yourself becalmed it is because there is a problem in the boiler room. It you’ve hit the rocks it is because there is a problem in the boiler room. If you find yourself wondering which direction to sail in it is because there is a problem in the boiler room. The fix is that you have to take the boiler to pieces and put it back together again. Of course to do this you need an expert mechanic. (No surprises there). You cannot do it yourself. With therapy you stop looking over the prow of your ship at the wide ocean. And you stop learning from your mistakes. You bury yourself deep in the bowels of your ship and fiddle with the engine. Hoping that that will make the wind blow or will stop you running into the rocks again.

But. It won’t make the wind blow. And while you can possibly make adjustments to the hidden parts of the engine you could simply have learned to change course without getting grease all over your hands. It is interesting for the mechanic. It confirms his theories about how engines work. But don’t believe him when he tells you that you can’t sail well without taking your engine to bits and putting it back together again.

To put it another way. 99.9% of the time when you crash into the reefs and 99.9% of the time when you find yourself becalmed and 99.9% of the time when you find yourself lacking a direction it is not because there is a problem with the engine. These are just problems intrinsic to the business of sailing. Everyone has them to some degree or other. And, because they don’t result from a problem with your engine, there is nothing to be gained by taking it to bits and reassembling it. It is just a waste of time.

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer