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EVEN KEEL

February 18th, 2019

Nearly all sailboats are equipped with a kind of keel.  Some designs are more effective than others.  The most effective are designed in such a way as to accomplish only one thing: to keep the boat upright and as level as possible.

 

We have all seen white sails tilting at angles out on the water.  Perhaps we can even remember how startling it can be when a gust comes along and those white sails tilt even more.  We wonder: “are they going to go over?”

 

For the well-designed boat, this is not an issue.  A boat with a proper keel might get rolled, but will self-right.  This means that no matter what the circumstances, no matter how big the storm, such a boat will always be levelling back to the right position. 

 

Some boats, on the other hand make a trade-off in design and sacrifice this amazing capability for other things, often these trade-offs are either for more comfort or more speed.  Disconcertingly there are great number of racing sailboats that float very well upside-down.  Their keels work very effectively.. until a point.  Once flipped, they stay flipped.  Regardless of experience on the water, anyone can easily imagine that such a situation is far from desirable.  A self-righting boat, if rolled presents a platform on which to plan and execute a next move in order to survive, even if all the rigging and sails have been torn off the boat.  On the other hand, a boat that is rolled and stays completely upside-down is a far more difficult circumstance.

 

The images of these designs present an allegory for how we react to the unfortunate circumstances of life. 

 

When a storm comes along and rolls us, do we always self-right?  Have we trained our mind and designed our thinking so that we are always trending towards a calmer more thoughtful reaction?

 

Or do we stay toppled?  Do we react emotionally and ineffectively?  And do we continually entertain those first thoughts in reaction to a storm of life in order to continually feed our anger, our sense of unjust treatment and bad luck?

 

It wasn’t too long ago when the whole notion of physical exercise and training the body was a strange and uncommon practice.  Today a person who is not continually tinkering with their physical regimen is seen as behind the times.

 

So too will come to pass the same change when it comes to the training and the design of one’s mind.  The design of our mind is much like the design of a sailing vessel.  Instead of physical dimensions and smooth hydrodynamic lines, the design of our mind is a function of the ideas we tinker with, the axioms by which we operate and the training we engage with in order to strengthen connections between different parts.

 

Indeed, the whole concept of having an even keel is becoming more and more applicable as science delves into the mechanisms of the brain and how different practices effect our brain.  Things like good diet, exercise and meditation have long begun to show their influences on how a mind is reshaped, redesigned, and refit for the sea of life.

 

We can perpetually wonder: how can I tinker with this design and make it just a little bit better?

 

This episode builds off of the allegorical image presented in Episode 165: Set Sail


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Podcast Ep. 309: Even Keel

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