On a boat without oars

Last year there was a moment I felt like I was on a boat without oars. I was being pushed around by high waves and rained on by heavy storms. I had no clue where I was going. Placed with choices and decisions to make, fed with opinions and advice of others I felt like I was going nowhere. The uncertainty of what is happening and what is going to happen was terrifying.

I am the kind of person who always wants things to be in control. Organized, clean, and under control. So you can imagine how being on a boat without oars was for me. A state of panic. Fear of being stuck in the wrong place. Fear of something going wrong. And I didn’t like being in a situation like that. Nobody likes being in a situation like that.

If you’ve watched The Morning Show, maybe you remember the scene where Alex says to Bradley in her dressing room, “Do you ever just not know who you are? Or what do you want? All of a sudden you just don’t feel anything?” “Um, some of that, yeah”, says Bradley. Alex expresses, “I don’t like it”.

Many questions came to my mind: Why is it that I’m so afraid of uncertainty? Why do I struggle to make decisions when I’m at the crossroads, or when I’m facing a storm. Why am I afraid of things going wrong? What can go wrong? Who is to say which path is right and which is wrong? How do I get clarity on my life? How do I get out of this confused state of mind where I’m just getting even more confused.

I asked these questions and realized all this while I’ve been afraid of life not going the way I’ve been told it should. But who is to say how it should or shouldn’t be? Sometimes the advice you get from others is not the right advice because the life you are living is very different from the life others are living or have lived. You’re on a different stage. And on that stage you don’t have to be another person, you just have to be you, what you are at your core.

I had forgotten who I was and got overwhelmed with all the outside noise. But that’s also because I never really sat down and allowed myself to clearly answer the question. When you don’t define it for yourself, it’s easy to get lost in all the information that is out there.

When I figured out who I was at my core (I could not have done this without the help of a friend. When you’re lost, sometimes you need outside support to help you find your way back), I started making little decisions in my daily life based on the inherent values that defined me. Sikhi helped me define my values of consciousness, learning, and wisdom. The Shabad Guru enables me to be conscious, to learn from every step of life, and is my source of wisdom. Connecting back to the Shabad made me feel whole again.

So what happened to this boat without oars? Amidst the storm, out of nowhere, there was a beam of light. The eyes that I closed because I was so afraid of the storm suddenly opened and I found myself on a sailing boat. I needed no oars. All I needed was to use my new found self and adjust the sails according to the wind.

ਗਉੜੀ ਮਹਲਾ ੫ ॥
Gauree, Fifth Mehl:

ਮਨ ਧਰ ਤਰਬੇ ਹਰਿ ਨਾਮ ਨੋ ॥
O mind, cross over with the Support of the Lord’s Name.

ਸਾਗਰ ਲਹਰਿ ਸੰਸਾ ਸੰਸਾਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਬੋਹਿਥੁ ਪਾਰਗਰਾਮਨੋ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥
The Guru is the boat to carry you across the world-ocean, through the waves of cynicism and doubt. ||1||Pause||

ਕਲਿ ਕਾਲਖ ਅੰਧਿਆਰੀਆ ॥
In this Dark Age of Kali Yuga, there is only pitch darkness.

ਗੁਰ ਗਿਆਨ ਦੀਪਕ ਉਜਿਆਰੀਆ ॥੧॥
The lamp of the Guru’s spiritual wisdom illuminates and enlightens. ||1||

ਬਿਖੁ ਬਿਖਿਆ ਪਸਰੀ ਅਤਿ ਘਨੀ ॥
The poison of corruption is spread out far and wide.

ਉਬਰੇ ਜਪਿ ਜਪਿ ਹਰਿ ਗੁਨੀ ॥੨॥
Only the virtuous are saved, chanting and meditating on the Lord. ||2||

ਮਤਵਾਰੋ ਮਾਇਆ ਸੋਇਆ ॥
Intoxicated with Maya, the people are asleep.

ਗੁਰ ਭੇਟਤ ਭ੍ਰਮੁ ਭਉ ਖੋਇਆ ॥੩॥
Meeting the Guru, doubt and fear are dispelled. ||3||

ਕਹੁ ਨਾਨਕ ਏਕੁ ਧਿਆਇਆ ॥
Says Nanak, meditate on the One Lord;

ਘਟਿ ਘਟਿ ਨਦਰੀ ਆਇਆ ॥੪॥੨॥੧੪੦॥
Behold Him in each and every heart. ||4||2||140||

– Rāg Gauri, Guru Arjan Sahib, SGGS, Ang 210.