Following a Lead
When I was young and impressionable, my father would use sailing to impart a life lesson. He occasionally described a situation by using sailing metaphors. He would capture my attention by explaining life in sailing terms. It was pretty obvious that he enjoyed imparting nuggets of wisdom upon his oldest son.
For instance, he would explain how reading the wind, trimming sails, tacking, turning a tiller or a rudder was just like life. During these "father-son talks", the sea represented the life to him. It was often about the vagaries of winds, waves, tides and currents. Because he could relate clouds, high and low pressure fronts or storms to day to day struggles, it seemed almost everything about the sea had enough meaningful messages, I should somehow heed his words. Occasionally, he would even refer to boats as friends with personalities or buoys as navigable challenges - it seemed to him every skipper had to learn how to adapt or adjust to these characteristics. At the time sailing and water conditions seemed part of life's lessons.
Even though at times as a kid I would roll my eyes whenever my father felt it necessary and timely to impart his nautical wisdom on me, I usually enjoyed his observations and sailing parallels. But mostly when my father lead me aboard his metaphorical cruise, he knew I would probably jump on board his every word. Curious, I would actually enjoy his sailing anecdotal and analogical knowledge because they became entertaining and caught my attention.
At the time, I could rarely figure out why he was imparting his stories to me. This was especially true when at age 27 when he at 57 thought I needed to learn about the birds and bees. So he showed me how male and female dogs are bred. It did not matter to him that I had already been married and I was no longer a virgin. I eventually realized he wasn't showing me for my edification; he was showing me so he would feel better as a father. The fact that he was probably a decade too late did not enter his mind.
But as I recognized and realized his sailing parallels, life somehow felt easier and safer to comprehend at those times and sailing became more meaningful. On a few memorable occasions my father reminded me - "No one ever gets in front by following the leader."
Eventually I perceived my father's advice was only applicable for about half the time of any sailboat race. Every seasoned racing sailor gradually realizes an opposite strategy when racing downwind. Cover the competition when one is behind. Get between your competition and the wind. Catch a fresh puff or gust or shift first before the leader does. Take their wind!
Racing downwind creates the possibility that a sailor could catch a leader by covering his wind with his or her sail. These Ideal 18s, sailing off the CT shore near Southport maneuver for best possible position by the time they each the leeward mark during a race.
"Wet behind the ears" (before my teenage age years ironically when I thought I knew everything or, at least, more than my parents), I perceived my father's words as applicable to many situations. And, if my selective memory serves me, I didn't give him any credit for ever showing me how to get ahead and get to be the lead boat. That would have been really powerful advice. For that, I had to find out myself. Somehow, I began to question truth and trust. How could he tell me only half truths? It felt like he wasn't sharing the whole story. Eventually I began to feel unique and then separate which morphed into feeling abandoned. The irony is that he probably wanted me to be more independent while I wanted that too. But instead of appreciating him more, I jumped to conclusions, even as a parent, he should be helping me more. By the time I had figured he was helping me the best way he knew, I began to respect him more. It was the same time when my son seemed to think my sole purpose in life was to serve him. Ah, the irony of following a leader. Like most kids, there was a time I revered my father and followed him unconditionally.
Some follow a map...chart, GPS, astrological map.
Some follow law...rules, duty, allegiance, dedication
Some follow insecurities...concerns, fears, anxieties, worries
Some follow directions...recipes, instructions, guidelines, manuals
Some follow a career...livelihood, purpose, earning a living
Some follow money...bonus, promotion, greed, materialism, status
Some follow the crowd...peer pressure, mob, gang, posse, herd, pack
Some follow their morals...conscience, honor, obligation, responsibility
Some follow hope...goal, dream, delusion,
Some follow their passion...calling, cause, love, lust
Some follow their body...hunger, thirst, sex, addictions
Some follow their head...thought, perception, self-esteem
Some follow their heart...emotion, feeling, passion
Some follow their dreams...hopes, ambitions, fantasies
Some follow a hero...role model, example, idol
Some follow ego...selfishness, hubris, conceit, power, control
Some follow leaders...boss, guide, coach, reverend, rabbi, god, conductor, president
Many follow blindly...
Some get hooked
While some actually get too close to each other and get hooked together...
Why follow a leader?
no choice (as in birth)
strong belief / faith in cause
innocence / naivete
safety / protection
perceived best option
better than alternative(s)
nepotism / favoritism
Why abandon a leader?
Leaders always lead the pack by example.
Seems highly possible that those who stayed onboard think they are been better off than those who jumped ship.
Many are easily lead and easily influenced. Whatever our course and direction, it always leads us to where we are going, whether we know it or not in ownerSHIP, friendSHIP, partnerSHIP, companionSHIP, leaderSHIP and relationSHIP.
Some actually think for themselves...
Do you believe you were lead here or that you lead yourself to this blog post?
Some may even follow this blog
All of us follow our destiny even if it is someone else leading us over the cliff.
A blog I wrote last December about America’s Ship of State and the state of our states. Jumping to Conclusions