“Do you think Oz could give me courage?” asked the Cowardly Lion.
“Just as easily as he could give me brains,” said the Scarecrow.
“Or give me a heart”, said the Tin Woodsman.
“Or send me back to Kansas,” said Dorothy.
“Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll go with you,” said the Lion, “for my life is simply unbearable without a bit of courage.”
– The Wizard of Oz.
Recently I was fortunate to be given a chance to take our ship on a voyage from Singapore to TEMA (Ghana). The voyage was planned for 24 days and the longest I ever had. Like two men looking out from prison bars, one saw the mud while other saw stars, some of our crew saw this voyage through the eyes of fear and acted like a sheep waiting to be prodded by their shepherd, whereas others saw it through the eyes of opportunities. Well, I must say that these long voyages are not everyone’s cup of tea, in which some would succumb to the ordeal whereas some can find fulfillment and enjoyment.
“The erect and the fallen are but one man standing in twilight between the night of his Pigmy self and the day of his God Self.”
In any case, the course was charted and our voyage started on 19th December 2020. During this pandemic, where most of our office guys working from home were avoiding the social life, we on the other hand to make the voyage more fulfilling were finding ways to get more socialized. As we progressed, we celebrated Christmas, New Year, some crew birthdays and made the best use of spare time we had . On deck, the deck hands mastered all deck operations and enjoyed fixing day to day breakdowns and making the ship more seaworthy than ever before. Twice we crossed equator, crossed tropic of Capricorn and sighted dolphins too.
Drills and training were carried out but this time the person in charge was not an officer, rather the chance to head was given to cadets and ratings. Every opportunity was en-cashed to assist our crew to grow as a person and as a better seafarer. Prior commencing our voyage the vessel had called North Chinese ports where the icy winds howled and now in hot Summers of Africa working on deck, crew found themselves having dry sauna. At times we encountered heavy seas which slowed us down and then we had our good times too. Nevertheless, of all the adversity faced, looking out from our port holes we saw the sea – the real blue sea and we made a joyous bounding with the same waters on which we have sailed many times before.
Our voyage was like the tortoise who kept moving forward, slow and steady and finally on 12th January 2021, as TEMA port came over the horizon, we finally won our race. A long voyage which eventually ended up successfully. Though no physical awards were given on completion but for all on board the rewards were rich as the voyage proved to be an excellent teacher. A teacher who taught us that adversity can be transformed to an enjoyable challenge. Voyage that taught us that in the start we might not have all the answers but as we muster our courage and progress, with one bite at a time the elephant can indeed be eaten and with Step by Step – Ferociously we can surely win any of our voyages.
“The hidden well spring of your soul must needs rise and run murmuring to the sea; and the treasure of your infinite depths would be revealed to your eyes.” – Kahlil Gibran