Fighting the Wind

20 Sep

Some of life’s greatest battles are fought far away from the world gun powder and fatigues. Instead they are against nature’s bullies. Wind, rain, fire, etc.

Seriously, how do you fight an opponent you can’t touch? Invisible, omnipotent forces make a heck of an enemy. I witnessed it firsthand as I watched tennis talent Serena Williams struggle against the swirling winds on the Arthur Ashe Court in this year’s U.S. Open Finals. The wind openly mocked her. It tussled her skirt and converted her usual one-hitter quitter aces into technicals as they crashed into the net or sailed out of bound.

About ¾s into the match, I watched as an obviously frustrated Serena morphed into one who had finally accepted the wind’s presence and adjusted accordingly. It was amazing. And she went on to win. How many of us are like Serena, knowing things are beyond our control but burrow their heels and fight against the inevitable anyway. It’s fruitless and a complete waste of energy.

Trust me, I know. I’ve had my share of “fighting the wind” moments. One in particular sticks out in my mind. While in Russia, me and three friends each had a bunk in a sleeper train to Moscow. I was on the top right bunk bed tossing and turning most of the night as the train rattled and chugged its way to the country’s capitol.

As I finally began drifting to slumber, the rattling seemed to getting louder and louder, but I ignored it, intent on getting some much-needed shut-eye. Moments later, my friend in the left bunk stirs and reaches out, saying that someone had broken into our sleeper cabin and was reaching above my head seconds ago, grabbing for my brown bag, my brown bag which held my passport, credit cards and every ruble I had.  The brown bag which was under my pillow until a hour before when we double-locked the door.

I gasped as I wiped the sleep from my eyes.

Toting umbrellas as arsenal in a single file line, the four of us tiptoed down the train’s narrow hall to find our professor in the sleeper next door. We woke up everybody in our group, alerted them of the thief aboard the train and ultimately swapped bunks, adding a guy to our room for security. LOL. It’s laughable now. The reality is if the guys wanted to take us for everything we had, they could. But at that moment, we did what we could to resuscitate our sense of security. Around town, we’d learned to walk with our backpacks inside out to thwart pickpockets. But who expects a thief capable of defying two locks without a major stir?

Ahem, where was I going with this?

Oh yeah, there I was in a foreign country, where I knew about 20 words in the language. I could get mad but it would be fruitless. There was no way I could prove someone had just violated our living quarters. Only once I made it  back on American soil did I even allow myself to truly freak out. At the time, I was just happy I still had my brown bag and all of its contents. And learned to never let it off my body even in the most secure spaces.

“The pessimist complains about the wind. The optimist expects it to change. The leader adjusts the sails.” – John Maxwell

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