Do you ever feel like quitting? Throwing in the towel?
I found myself feeling that way at the end of a three-day sea kayaking/camping adventure earlier this year. It had been an extraordinary couple of days on water and land, filled with unforgettable encounters with nature, when it suddenly wasn't fun anymore. On the final stretch of the journey from our island paradise back to civilization, we encountered a 20-knot headwind. For those of you who are wondering, that's about 23 miles per hour. (And if you're curious what that's like, I found this video of similar conditions: http://bit.ly/170e1V2.)
Knowing that rest, a hot shower and clean clothes awaited us when we reached shore, we fought furiously, our paddles plowing through the water. But our efforts yielded minor forward progress. After about 45 minutes of nonstop paddling against the unrelenting wind — and our destination not yet in sight — I contemplated giving up. I was tired. The wind was winning.
But I knew that giving up was not an option. Stopping would mean falling even farther behind, blown backward by the wind. And so I kept paddling, my eyes scanning the shore for the takeout spot. Even when we could finally spy the far-off parking lot where our van awaited, I knew it would still be a while before we reached it. I kept paddling and stayed focused on the target. After about an hour and a half of fighting the wind, we finally reached our destination. When we stepped on shore, it was almost euphoric. Such relief after all that effort.
My experience that day reminds me of how we sometimes feel in life. Relationships end. Job searches yield no results. Friends disappoint. Work is rejected. Dreams go unfulfilled. Sometimes it seems like our hard work is for naught. Sometimes it just feels easier to throw in the towel.
If you find yourself ready to give up or give in, I encourage you to just keep paddling. Or, as Dory would say: "Just keep swimming." It may be difficult. It may seem like you're getting nowhere, that you're never going to reach your target. Just remember the journey of life is filled with ups and downs. That sea kayaking trip also yielded sightings of bald eagles and starfish, as well as beautiful sunrises and evenings around the campfire with friends. I even held a small (safe) jellyfish in my hand. I wouldn't have had those experiences without the struggle against that headwind. They were a package deal.
If your life has you feeling like you're fighting against a headwind, don't give up. If you stay focused on your target, you will weather the storm and reach shore eventually. And, believe me, it feels really good when you step out of the boat.
Do you recall a time when you had to keep going, even when you wanted to give up? Please share your story or thoughts in the Comments.