Setting My Sails

A gazillion years ago my version of today most likely looked like a snowy Minnesota Friday, viewed mostly from my classroom where I sat grading student essays as the sun set on another work week. Being a high school English teacher changes you in ways other folks may not quite appreciate. Unless, of course, they appreciate the nuances of language in the hands of ninth graders. In addition to lots of funny sentences and funnier stories, my students gave me a whole host of things.

At this time of year I always got cards and gifts, plates of possibly suspicious home baked cookies, gift cards to the Caribou Coffee shop down the street, and well wishes. And one year, I received a collection of quotes.

I like quotes. I always have. In fact, Mister Soandso got me two collections of quotes in my early years in the classroom. For a long time I would write a quote on my chalkboard. I started out having students respond to the quotes, but by the end of my teaching career, I no longer shared the quotes with the expectation that students respond to them. I shared them because I wanted to share them mostly for me.

And one year, a ninth grader handed me a lumpy envelope holding folded sheets of notebook paper, filled with round bubble handwriting. Over the months, she had been collecting quotes she wanted to give to me. Quotes that resonated with her and that she thought I might appreciate.

I am pretty sure it was on one of those sheets of paper I first came across a variation of this quote:

“It is the set of the sails, not the direction of the wind that determines which way we will go.” ~Jim Rohn

Today, perhaps every day, this quote resonates with me. Because it reminds me that I have the power to control my destiny when so often it feels as if I am rudderless and facing heavy storms.

It is my choice to hoist my sails. Or not.

It is my choice to jib or to tack.

I have a choice.

There are so many things in life I cannot control, but I can control how I respond to the events outside of my control.

My children’s capricious moods do not have to wreck my mood as well. My sense of worth is not dependent upon getting an agent, getting published, getting good reviews, or even ever hearing “good job” from a certain person. My appreciation of my own body doesn’t require someone else appreciating it as well.

It is good to be reminded, and frequently for me, that I have the power over at least part of my destiny…my reaction.

I may not be good at remembering that, but I am good at recognizing a wonderful cosmic reminder when I see it. So thank you, Mister Soandso, for setting into motion a chain of events today that brought this into play.

Thank you for the reminder to set my sails–the breeze is picking up. I might as well enjoy the wind…

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