Updated: Jan 30, 2020
A childhood inspiration becomes a metaphor for life
I was in elementary school when I first learned to create an origami sailboat. I have always been enchanted by these little paper creations. The act of taking an uninspired white sheet and transforming it through a methodical sequence of folds into a fanciful vessel is the closest thing to a magic trick that I have known. Through its turns and presses, one gets the hint of what is to come. In its final step, the paper is a flat diamond shape with a slit down its center. It does not look like much at this point but when you pull it apart at its seams, out pops the great surprise! The enchanting little boat beckons a daydream voyage in your mind if not for just a few seconds. I have fabricated these paper boats all my life. It is always a delight to see a child’s eyes light up when I make one for them. Once I was at a wedding reception and our friend’s 8-year-old son was sitting at our table a bit bored. I took the wedding menu and got to work. Delighted and with quick resolve, he took the little boat and ran outside to play with it in the fountain. In his excitement, he fell right into the water along with the it! I thought it pretty funny but I am sure his mom did not! Is that not just like a kid!
These origami creations is where my love for sailboats started. Although I grew up in Florida, I never had the opportunity to ride a sailboat until I was an adult. But in my romantic soul, the sailboat was a graceful symbol of life's journey. The more I lived, the deeper this connection became. I always had a model sailboat in my home, my children’s nursery was a sailor bear theme and I even crafted artwork where I pieced together felt to create nautical flags that spelled out our family name. I am captivated by all things nautical and the metaphor it has for life. The unpredictability of life is like the sea and we are like these small vessels navigating the great big blue, be it through turbulent waves or placid waters. There are periods of sea sickness and violent storms that demand perseverance and courage and there are times of endless drifting in the middle of nowhere where patience and doubt battle it out for space in your mind. There are captains, pirates and a crazy crew of personalities to contend with along the way as well as new ports of call to discover. We hope for “fair weather” days but life’s journey brings an adventure all its own. Now at midlife, I see the sailboat more than a symbol of life but also inspiration on how to do life. When I lose my ‘sea legs’ I remember my two favorite nautical sayings:
" You cannot control the wind but you can adjust the sails"
“A smooth sea never made a skillful sailor”
As the years go by and we are continually turned and pressed at every corner, may we rise like that blank sheet of paper and become something buoyant and new for the journey ahead.