Years ago I was on my college’s crew – I didn’t row – I was the small person in the stern of the boat who tells the rowers where to go and how fast to go – I was a coxswain.
Scrunched up in the back of the boat, the coxswain is the only one who can see where the boat is going. The rowers have to trust the coxswain to steer them towards their destination.
We had arrived in Tampa for spring training – a welcome relief from the frozen north. We were out on Tampas’ huge bay, that smelled weirdly of lemon pie, amidst a mixture of pleasure boats and freighters. I had started the team’s warm up – long, slow strokes to help us get into the rhythm and to adjust to being on such a large body of water – so different from the river.
As we traversed the bay something in the back of my mind kept trying to catch my attention but my focus was in front of me. “Look”, I’d hear in my mind. “Pay attention”. I was looking. I just was not seeing.
And then I saw.
What I saw was a black wall, inconceivably huge, towering directly over us. I couldn’t comprehend what I was seeing. “What is it? Why is it so close? Where did it come from?” I struggled to wrap my brain around it.
And then I understood. We were under the bow of ship that was bearing down upon us. Our little fiberglass boat was like a matchstick on the ocean, the freighter wouldn’t even know it had run over us.
I shouted at the team to sprint in 5-4-3-2-1, NOW! They couldn’t figure out what was going on. I kept picking up the pace until we escaped the bow wave at which point they collapsed from exhaustion and I from relief.
So what does rowing crew have to do with you? Our calling can be like that ship, so clearly in sight, so obvious, so much a part of us that we can’t even see it. Its closeness to us can render it invisible. And so, while we look for our calling in parts unknown, most likely it’s been right next to us all along….this is an epiphany many of us have along the way…and one that that led me to step on to the path of Wayfinder Coaching, helping others to see the joyful answers looming in the murky fog of life…