Feel sluggish, low in spirits/energy, depressed, perhaps unmotivated, unchallenged?
In a state of stagnation? Experiencing a lack of activity or progress? Feeling “stuck”?
All of us, at one time or another have faced these feelings and have had to decide what to do with them. How to maneuver through them, how to learn from them.
Allow me to utilize some sailing similes as we drift through the afore mentioned feelings or “DOLDRUMS’. Have you been in the “doldrums”?
You younger ones perhaps have never heard that idiom used before. To be in the doldrums means – to be inactive, dull, quiet, sluggish, or lethargic. It was used in the 18th century when referring to a sluggish person, or a doldrum.
But alas, even that expression comes from the maritime use of doldrums. You see, sailors hate (and have for a very long time) the doldrums. Why? Because the doldrums are a monotonous, windless section of the ocean, where sailing ships sometimes get stuck on the water for weeks at a time. The doldrums are referred to as “an ocean parking lot around the Equator”. (Joano Turner, Theoceanrace.com)
The doldrums are a 50-250 mile wide strip of ocean that runs 5 degrees above the Equator to 5 degrees below the Equator. It is the section of the ocean at the Equator where there are no winds. The trade winds from the North meet the trade winds from the South and as they are heated, those winds rise up, leaving no steady surface winds on the ocean. “The doldrums are a band of calms & light baffling winds North & South of the Equator in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” A sailor could sail for weeks in a flat, calm ocean.
The doldrums also have a reputation as being the “dead zone”. It can be a life and death issue for sailors, as running out of food and water while stalled out there can lead to delirium, scurvy, starvation and cabin fever. In addition, the intense solar air at the Equator makes this ocean area not only the “dreaded doldrums” but also “the desert of the ocean”.
Stay with me… besides science and sailing, we’re talking about you and me, too. But in a moment…
The sailing pros who deal with the doldrums most effectively are those who race in the 8 month, 45,000 nautical mile, around the world sailing race, called The Volvo Ocean Race. Every three years it is held, usually begins in Spain, consists of 9/10, 20 day legs, reaching 6 continents, until the world has been circumnavigated.
What do you do in the doldrums? How do you get out? Get through? Here’s the advice from those pros.
” A major priority – avoid allowing boats to stop completely because overcoming inertia to get moving again requires significant increase of wind strength. A strategy for getting through includes a series of short term tacks…” (The Equator Doldrums Explained 11/15/11, Volvo Ocean Race)
Let’s bring this back to us now.
There are times we get stuck, feel unmotivated, uninspired, sluggish, stagnant & like we’re not making any progress. There are times we are in the doldrums of life. We’re in the “dead zone” or “desert”. It’s dry, hot, monotonous, boring and there is no noticeable forward progress. It can be dangerous, even life threatening too, if we don’t learn how to deal with it. We, like sailors, hate the doldrums, and we can escape them like great sailors.
The major priority – do not come to a complete stop. Do not. No checking out. No hiding. No withdrawing. Stay in the game. Keep up relationships. Keep plodding though. Be honest with yourself and keep moving. Small, strategic tacks (course changes) will get you out of the dreaded doldrums.
We can usually tell when we are approaching the doldrums. THAT’S the time to make a slight course change. Not when we are already stopped and totally depressed. Remember, it takes more strength to overcome the inertia of a stationary object (you/me) than it does to make a course correction.
With skillful sailing and wise choices, we can make it through the doldrums of life. We can avoid being stuck in the dead zone for any major length of time by making those strategic tacks. We can avoid cabin fever, starvation & delirium.
Cool thing too about the doldrums, as slow as they are, you can go from 1 to 100 in seconds, because of the erratic weather patterns.
So, hang on, change is coooooooommmmiiinnngggg!!!! We’re busting loose of those dreaded doldrums.
Cheers to you.