My friend, Chris, is a fisherman. The kind of fisherman people pay to take them deep-sea fishing. The kind who enters tournaments and gets paid to fish.
A few days ago, he was out with a group. It was a stormy, windy day with rough, choppy seas. The kind of day only tourists and fanatics will tolerate.
They dropped anchor for a while, as fisherman are wont to do. When it was time to head home, the anchor got hung up on something on the ocean floor.
When the ocean is rough and your anchor gets caught on something, it can capsize the boat. Drown you and your passengers.
After trying to get the anchor loose, Chris did the only thing he could do. He cut the rope and left the anchor on the bottom of the ocean floor.
Chris tied a buoy to the line before leaving it. When he went fishing again a few days later, the buoy led him right to his anchor. He pulled the formerly recalcitrant anchor up out of the water and brought it back onboard.
Life is a lot like that anchor. We get hung up on expectations of how our life is supposed to be. Or an idea of how someone should think or behave.
The more we fight against the pull of our expectations, the more likely we are to capsize.
Sometimes we have to cut the rope on the anchor of our expectations. The marriage we thought we had. The career we worked to achieve. The life which turned out not to be the life we thought we were getting.
The very act of cutting our expectations loose allows us to float away and re-evaluate before coming back again.
Sometimes we return and find our anchor waiting, rope floating on the surface of the ocean. We get a second chance. We can pull our anchor up like Chris did and try again. Rebuild a relationship. Revitalize a career. Redefine a life.
Sometimes, the anchor is gone. Sometimes it remains hopelessly stuck.
It takes fearlessness to cut the rope and drift away from our anchor. It takes bravery to come back to it. It takes courage to find a new anchor, create a new life, allow a new love.
A few years ago, I left a lucrative law practice. I had great partners and wonderful benefits. It wasn’t perfect, but it was good.
I left because I was offered a named partnership in a smaller firm. It seemed like an opportunity to provide greater financial security for my family.
The timing of the partnership coincided with the downturn in the economy that most negatively impacted my division of the practice. What should have been an opportunity for financial freedom nearly pulled me under.
When I cut the anchor on the first partnership, it was like cutting a perfectly good anchor in a calm sea.
When I cut the anchor on the second partnership, it was an act of desperation to prevent professional and financial capsize.
I floated away from both of those anchors and started my own law practice. Five years later, I’m still manning the helm of my own boat. I decide when to draw up the anchor and move to more responsive waters.
Three years ago I cut the anchor that was a bad marriage. We were as volatile as a stormy sea. Staying in my marriage would have capsized me. Staying with the wrong man was drowning my spirit.
Some anchors are irretrievably embedded in the ocean floor. We tie ourselves to them over and over again, trapped in a cycle of unhappiness. Always straining against the current. Always being tossed about by waves of chaos.
When we are stuck in that cycle of turbulence, it’s easy to forget life wasn’t always like that; doesn’t always have to be like that.
If we are brave enough to cut the rope and loose the anchor from our boat, we can sail away into a new life. A new chance at happiness, prosperity, success.
We can steer our boat into calmer seas with clear blue water that is as still and perfect as glass.
We can put up our sails and feel the wind in our face as we skim the surface of the harbor.
We can find love again. Love with someone who is willing to stand next to us on the bow, faces pointed into the wind together.
All we have to do us cut the anchor and sail away.
Just sail away.
Question: What have you sailed away from? Were you able to sail back and reclaim it again?