"Allies are the wind for our sails, helping us to continue moving forward even in times when we've forgotten our value." -- Jonas Cain
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Have you ever been sailing? It's fascinating how adjusting the sails in just the right way can send you in the direction you want to go.
Sometimes it's challenging to move forward, though, when there's no wind for the sails, a valuable reminder of the need in our everyday lives for support to keep moving forward—even when it feels like we're stuck in second gear and it hasn't been our day, week, month, or even our year.
A valuable source of this wind for our proverbial sails is our allies, the positive people who celebrate with us in good times and who also help to keep us moving forward even in times of trouble.
Looking back on my own life I am encouraged by all of the times that I've been able to lean on the support of allies—family, friends, peers, mentors, and so forth—to not only get through the challenging times, but to also make the good times even better.
For example, a number of years ago I lived with my friend Matthew for seven months. In the years leading up to this I had experienced a particularly difficult time battling grief, depression, and suicidal ideation following the death of a very dear friend. Everything came to a head in November of 2009 when I quit my job, gave away my possessions, left my apartment, and embarked on a 3000-mile cross country bicycle ride from Massachusetts to California.
It's important to note that this journey wasn't about the bicycle ride and it wasn't about the destination. Rather, it was about giving myself space to be alone with my thoughts without the distraction of everyday life. In the years leading up to that journey, I still had to show up to work every day performing magic shows to help people laugh and smile, yet all I wanted to do was not exist.
Some people tried to discourage me from going on the trip, reasoning that I can't run away from problems and that wherever I go they will follow if I don't face them. Yet that was exactly what I was doing by embarking on that journey. I couldn't face the issues that were plaguing me while also being distracted by everyday responsibilities. By removing the distractions I became free to face the problems head-on.
But November is a terrible time to begin a cross country bicycle ride in New England and by the third day I was cold, wet, and wanted to go back home. Yet I had no home to go home to, because I had removed that safety net, meant to encourage me to stay focused on what I had set out to do. Though I had no home to return to, I did have the support of my allies, and that's when Matthew stepped in to help.
Matthew invited me to stay with him while I figured things out, and for the next seven months I become free to take care of myself with the burden of having to support myself, a reminder of the encouraging words: "I'll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour, I'll be there for you, like I've been there before, I'll be there for you, because you're there for me too."
Most of all, he provided the wind for my proverbial sails to help keep me moving forward at a time when I no long had the ability to do so myself.
Who are your allies? And how are you adding wind to each other's sails?
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Jonas Cain, M.Ed. is a storyteller, magician, musician, and facilitator of fascination on a mission to help you experience abiding joy.