Surviving the storm

Saffiya Ismail says that no matter how challenging life can be, we all have it in us to survive the storm.

We are like ships. Some of us are those luxury yachts, some of us are tug boats, and others are majestic cruise liners. I am somewhere in-between.... like the boat in the movie “Fools Gold” still standing strong; sailing through whatever the ocean throws at me.

One thing we all have in common, is that the ocean can be forgiving or it can swallow you up.

It doesnt care how majestic your ship is or whether you a hard working a tug you are. It can either make you or break you. If you survive the ocean, be rest assured, your ship will eventually reach a point where it will be decommissioned.

That’s a reality ... death. How you survive the storms of the ocean, is what you leave behind.

Why the comparison to a ship?


For me; the ocean seems to symbolise life. Sometimes we have brilliant blue skies, calm ... beautiful and just when you get too comfy, the dark storm clouds appear. The waves change from calm to an angry crushing force.

How we face the ocean is all up to us? “Your ship” either mans up and sails through or succumbs to the ocean.

In my case, I seem to be in really rough oceans recently. I have enjoyed calm seas only to be met by a few vicious storm. I am still sailing though. Did I test the ocean at some point of my life, when I asked it “is that all you have?” Seems the ocean is teaching me some valuable lessons in sailing and keeping afloat.

Maybe this time it’s the perfect storm. The type to make any captain pray harder and deeper. .

Every person I have met or meet recently are facing challenges. From retrenchments, to health issues, to issues with their children; divorce ... too many to mention.

When you hear about their troubles, you realise yours cannot be compared; some times your inner voice says, "I rather have my troubles, than yours" ... you even feel guilty for complaining.

They are carrying heavier burdens. I don’t know how people are coping or their coping mechanisms they have. There is handbook on life; we just learn lessons as we go along

As we meander through the challenges of life. Wrong decisions, painful experiences all come at a price. Some of us pay a higher price in life, one thing is for sure, we continue the fight.

We all need encouragement, we all need those words of comfort, we know it won’t last forever and somehow we will get through it. Maybe we will be more bloodied and bruised than the next person, but I assure you will be stronger due to it.

All I know is I accept what comes, good or bad now, I am more at peace with the calm waters and the waves that sometimes go over my head, which make me wonder if my ship will make it through.

Every one of us wants smooth sailing, no one wants turbulent patches. It is against our nature as human beings to enjoy pain and suffering, yet, hardships is something we need to feel in order to appreciate and value of joy, contentment and happiness when we do have it.

Sound diabolical; in order to value the depths of joy, we must also understand the depths of sorrow. In order to understand success, we must understand failure. In order to be comfortable, we have to be uncomfortable first.

I don’t know how or when my outlook changed, at which exact point... but I do know I have changed. I understand the spectrum of life, from the downside to the flipside. Took me years but I think I am getting the gist of it.

My faith and hope has helped me with this, where I am no longer afraid. Yes I am concerned and worried about where to from here, but I am not panicking or afraid. I have trust and faith that I have been brought to it, and I will get through it. I am here because I am meant to be here.

How I arrive on the flipside, only time will tell, it’s an angry ocean right now it’s either going to make me one great captain or a legacy of the ocean. No matter what adversity; test or calamity I have been faced with recently, fear is not an issue any longer.

Trust is what has taken its place. If you met me a year or two ago, I would have needed Prozac’s to calm me down.

So if you are going through major difficulties right now, know that the bad times won’t last forever. It might not seem like it now and you probably going to read this and say, “no way, there is no way out” be rest assured, there is.

You just have to be patient, trust in the path you are on; there is a reason why you are here. It’s definitely going to take every ounce of strength to remain strong, to face people and smile knowing you have all these troubles raging within you.

The bill keeps piling up, your bank manager is your new stalker, your "spouse" is now your worst nightmare, your child is a stranger ..... whatever "your story" is - Don’t lose faith or hope. Don’t lose yourself.... just remember, don’t let go, be gentle with yourself. Embrace the ebb and flow of the water which surrounds you.

This is probably the lesson we are meant to learn… “Calm seas never make good captains”, when the time is right, you will arrive on the flipside, and you will look back and say, I survived that perfect storm. One may not fathom this, but you are not alone, many are experiencing what you are or even worse. So as alone as you may think you are, some other person might have it ten times worse.

I have learnt to be grateful for the hidden mercies of these experiences. I am learning invaluable lessons, and I am also learning who actually who stands by you through the hard times and who’s trails you can see as they disappear into the horizon.

Survival takes courage, dig in deep, it’s there within you. Just trust yourself and your ship will get through the tide.

Check out Saffiya's blog or follow her on Twitter.

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