Safety and Risk: The Shipwrecked Soul

Excerpted from
The Work Of Being Your Self:

The dance of safety and risk is integral to any human life. We all need safe harbors to which we can retreat: places, people, and activities where we can drop the effort to please the world or to achieve the dream. We need to feel safe in the world for our sanity and for the health of the body, mind, and soul. But the human spirit also thrives on risk. We have incredible curiosity, a desire to know the world, and to experience novelty, sometimes leading us to take on extreme challenges. We are the only species that will not settle for the limits with which we come into the world. We dream impossible dreams, strive to achieve them, and work, for better or for worse, to shape the world in which we live.

Life often presents us with challenges or opportunities that put us on the "horns of a dilemma:" should we play it safe or take a risk? This recurring conflict is one of the five dynamic dilemmas of life. Dynamic dilemmas cannot be solved once and for all. We must renegotiate our place with them at different times in our lives. The Work Of Being Your Self explores these dilemmas by using poems, questions to ponder, and writing prompts to help you navigate your way through them and craft a life true to your Self! 

I wrote The Shipwrecked Soul in 2001 and it was a watershed poem, the precursor of a life-changing journey that is still underway. It has been read by thousands and many have said it was a godsend in tough times.

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The Shipwrecked Soul

Beware the captain--

That sails only on smooth waters;
That drops anchor only in safe harbors;
That lets aboard only familiar faces;
That will not brook strong winds or stormy weather;

Whose life, well lived, is a deadly comfort--

Never to be dashed against the rocks of passion.
Never to be dismembered on the shores of love.

Yet a life so well lived, it hides a shipwrecked soul

I have been such a captain.

But now I set out on unknown seas

With sails full open--

Guided only by whispers in the wind;
By images in white capped waves;
By patterns in the flight of birds;
And by bits of news from distant ports.

In search of that soul survivor--

The almost forgotten fragments of Self
That shall heal the world as the world heals me.

Watershed moments! This Picture was taken at Niagara Falls, ontario, Canada. The sheer volume of water over the falls is astounding.

Watershed moments! This Picture was taken at Niagara Falls, ontario, Canada. The sheer volume of water over the falls is astounding.

Questions To Ponder:

Where do you go and what do you do to relax and unwind? What places, faces, and activities serve as your safe harbors?

When have you left your safe harbors? What inspired you to do so?

What is now calling you out? What is happening in you or in your life that is asking, or even demanding, that you venture out to unknown seas?

Please share your comments below!

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