From childhood on and especially following the loss of my dear sisters, I have tended to employ a simple analogy which likens the body to a ship and the spirit or soul to its captain and pilot. (I have already referred to the problem with analogies and it is here that we are confronted with our first difficulties if we push the analogy too far. Each vessel needs to be perceived as an automated structure of which the captain/pilot is its ‘brain’). Ships may appear to, on the whole, conform in shape, size, basic structure etc. However each pilot/captain is different to the point of uniqueness. Some are easier and more straightforward than others, given our desire to follow and their ability to remain on course. Others are more complex and their manoeuvres more difficult to trace. Some – a few – can perform a variety of intricate and complex tasks which emphasise their individuality, and so on.
Sometimes we move around on calm and placid seas; in the words of the poet, “God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world”. At other times and on other occasions we have cause to pass under cloudy skies, where storm and gale can rage into tempest, at times gravely threatening the very existence of our little (when compared with the mighty ocean craft, seemingly from every quarter. Sometimes we are, as its captain/ pilot, directly or indirectly responsible for such torrid times and potential disasters. In other words they are self-inflicted, brought about by ignorance, misunderstanding, wilfulness, disregard, neglect, abuse, etc.
Fortunately we can, in each and every instance of the above, continually learn and increasingly improve our skills and widen our experience of ‘seamanship’. Even on those occasions when the actual structure/design of the vessel itself is threatened with breakdown – sometimes because of unforeseen and maybe in the first instance relatively slight adverse effects which for a short season have been ignored and left unattended – we can benefit by learning to be more watchful, insightful and responsive about and to early warning signs of potential failure. Thus overall, experience becomes “grist to the mill” and wholly supportive of and consistent with sound and ever improving management. (C)SB.