It has been decided since before time that I have to find my own way through the ocean of life, but little did I know this until recently. I have come to know of my true objective, yet the waters upon which I must sail are rough indeed. The little boat provided to me can reach my destination, of that I am sure, for has it not carried me all this time I drifted aimlessly from one shore to another? However what I wonder is whether I will be able to muster the strength to reach my objective without being tossed about. And, will I be able to differentiate between honest sailors and pirates?
The time for action is now and I must begin to sail with a purpose. There are no two chances, it is either now or never. The water once again grabs hold of my dwelling without warning and the wind pushes it forward. Time will not wait for me. One way or the other I must control my boat before I am thrown off course and completely lose the direction in which I must travel. I grab unto the oars given with the vessel and row with all my strength. Time passes, and all the while I pray for help, because although for now I can move forward, my arms will tire soon, and there is no way I can control my boat and reach my destination if my arms are too weak to use.
Then, from the direction in which I wish to sail, a glorious ship comes forth, its black sails flapping in the wind, its body glimmering with gold and silver. Occupying this ship is a young man, strong and handsome, with rich silk clothes of red.
“Waste not your time,” he calls out to me. “There is no need for you to sail any longer. Do you not see the rough waters ahead? Can you not see your boat will not be able to survive the violent storms? Come aboard and stay with me. I will show you where your goal should be. Leave your current journey and begin a new one of pleasure and ease with me.”
His words echo through my ears, and I wish to accept his offer, but it does not feel right. All my effort in bringing myself to where I am now cannot just be in vain. I look up and see his ship is occupied by others as well, laughing, smiling, dancing, not a care for the rough waters surrounding their ship. Had they all begun their journeys in wooden boats like mine and then abandoned their task as I am being told to? The happiness they seem to be enjoying looks intoxicating. Would it not just be better to sail on that ship and be happy like the rest?
“Do not listen to him,” a voice calls out. Sailing from behind a modest looking boat comes into view, and it does not look much different than my own, except that it is much, much older. The speaker is an old man, hair and beard of gray, with simple white clothes that have been worn and washed countless times. A look of kindness is on his face as he speaks once more.
“He is a pirate who wishes to steal from you. He will cunningly appear to be safekeeping your boat, but whilst you are busy enjoying yourself, he will be busy weakening your vessel. His thievery is of the worst kind; he steals from you not only your yearning to reach your destination, but also the span of your life, the time given to you within which you must complete your journey.”
“If what you say is true, then what must I do?” is my question. “Can you not allow me unto your boat?”
The old man shakes his head. “I cannot take you unto my boat; it is made only for one person alone. That is the way of these waters. One must carry their own weight and make their own effort. It is only delusion that is making those on that ship oblivious to the end they will receive from that man. He will not bear their burdens for them. In the end he will leave them all with their own weights to carry upon their shoulders, and they will collapse trying to keep afloat. In the end they will not succeed.
“You are not alone in these waters. There are others who are sailing as well, some fast, some slow, but all striving forward. They keep each other company, they speak to each other encouragingly, but each carries their own burden and sails their own boat. If you wish, you may follow me and I will guide you in the right direction. I will not steer your vessel for you, but I will teach you how to steer it yourself. I will aid you in finding easier paths; I will show you where you can rest; I will prove to you that it can be done, and with patience and perseverance, you will reach your final abode.”
In the end, is ease not more pleasant when it has been achieved by oneself after a little struggle? If I was given a boat, then would I not have been given the power to sail it as well? If others like me can sail through these rough waters, then how is it possible that I would be given such a task as well but not have the ability to complete it where others have?
My decision is made then. I will turn my back on the beauty of the ship and remain in the simplicity of my wooden boat. I will follow the encouragements of the old man who says I can make my journey rather than the bidding of the young man who says I cannot. My sailing will not be free of hurdles, and there will surely be times when I will feel tired and alone, times when I will meet with pirates once more… but, with encouragement and guidance I will sail by these obstacles with strength gifted to me, and with the help of the Guide I will complete my journey, like the others who have completed this journey before me.