media relations and project management for international affairs
The Keel of Life
October 20, 2012
A week ago the DLR team was invited out to sail while conducting an interview. The winds were perfect, the water was calm and the sun was unapologetically beaming down on us. Timid to the waters, sailing out into the midst of the filthy ocean in the scorching sun without direction or a plan of escape in case of an emergency, seemed to dissipate once I began to trust and become comfortable with an environment that was unknown to me. This was a time for me to process all of God’s creation and the splendor that accompanied it. I was aware that this kind of serenity existed ; however, I was not used to welcoming or absorbing this state of stillness. It was a time for me to nurse my thoughts, appreciate the privilege of sitting in a seat that was specifically and strategically designed for me in that moment and an opportunity to begin building warmhearted memories of going out into the ocean.
Once we reached the middle of the waters we decided to head back to the docks. Turning back we sailed upwind tacking through the winds. The captain of the boat and Donald became busy with what seemed to be strange maneuvers unlike when we first started out on our mini voyage. Anxiety returned because I knew not how to position myself nor what to expect as the other seasoned sailors prepped the boat and themselves for what was ahead. I was no longer trusting to what some refer to as the friendly waters. It seemed as if we were about to capsize. I was reassured we were not going to overturn and that the boat was unable to be submerged because of the boat’s keel. Donald explained that the keel uses the forward motion of the boat to generate lift to counteract the leeward force of the wind. With this explanation I had no other choice but to trust that we were going to return safely to the docks. Despite the little bit of hope that I had left all I wanted was for this journey to end. We decided to stop off and examine a couple of the boats’ structures. There Donald showed me a keel. I concluded it was basically a wing-like flat blade that pointed downward into the water from the boats’ bottom. For some reason the keel piqued my interest. When I returned home from the outing my thoughts would not rest until I researched the keel’s purpose.
As I delved into my research I began to see the correlation between the keel of a boat and the structural architecture and foundation of the human body – the spine. The keel, like the spine contributes substantially to longitudinal strength. The keel stabilizes the vessel or creates an angle of attack between the water flow and the fin keeping the vessel from slipping to the side pushing the gravity back to center. If the keel is strained or broken it loses its structural integrity and the entire structure of the ship must be rebuilt or is unsalvageable. I further learned keels can be fixed or retractable in order to allow sailing in more shallow waters. Musing through everything I read I couldn’t help but to make a life application. As we weather the gusty winds and as heavy waves seem to undertake us, we must keep an even keel by anchoring ourselves into a position where our vessels are balanced in order to conform to what we are temporarily sailing against. As our foundations are threatened we must contrive a way to become centered. When the foundation is disturbed it is able to sense when it is off keel. This may be the signal for us to change our direction or course. Just as the sailors on the boat were mindful of the winds we faced they did not permit the illusion of the winds to get the boat off balance. Because of the sailor’s familiarity with various sailing conditions and the vessel’s foundation they were aware of the mental corrections and adjustments needed in order to assist the keel with bringing the boat back to its original state. The men aboard the vessel were able to balance out their sensory perception. It is the same with our life. We must find that keel in our lives, navigate around challenges, and find security in the keel so that we are able to remain centered and strong.