…there I am, in all my neurotic glory.
In early September, in the days after attaining my Coastal Navigation certification with my sailing mentor, Nancy Erley, I felt empowered—a confident captain of my fair little ship. I started drafting a piece titled Empowerment. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online edition) empowerment means: the act or action of empowering someone or something; the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties. By the time I re-opened the file after a week of end-of-sailing-season boat work, instead of feeling sure of my skills and judgement, I once again felt “not enough.” Though I certainly did not know any less on that day than when Nancy departed Kagán for home, somehow I felt like I did. It made me wonder, as noted in the definition, if I needed the power to be “granted” to me by someone else. Why can’t I claim it for myself?
I don’t love this feeling, this need to be empowered by another’s faith in me, rather than my own belief in myself. No matter how much I respect her, and my respect for Nancy is beyond measure, still I want to feel it within, and I have no doubt Nancy would want that for me—she respects me, so when will I?
I also don’t love disclosing this, but I believe there is power in going deep, in having the courage to be vulnerable as a writer. I believe that is how writers touch people most profoundly. Maybe that is one of the things I can claim for myself, courage as a writer.
Now that I consider it, even when I go from feeling like a confident captain to an uncertain one, I still get out there—sailing, cruising, and caring for Kagán—sometimes alone and sometimes with crew, but out there doing it. It seems Empowered Me and Insecure Me look pretty much the same to everyone but me. And maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one in that same boat or on that same page.
Here’s another confession, I do love show tunes. But how does that relate to empowerment? Well, in the words of the lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein II in the song I Whistle a Happy Tune from the musical The King and I:
Make believe you’re brave
And the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are.
Though I’m not a big fan of “faking it until you make it,” I think in this case, it isn’t faking whatever the task at hand is (like, for instance, docking Kagán), it’s faking believing in myself until I actually do.
So, the passage I’m on these days, by land or by sea, is the ongoing journey to myself, as always with notebook in hand. Perhaps, en route, I’ll redefine empowerment for myself. I expect wherever I go, there I’ll be in all my glory, in whatever way I choose to define that. How about this—empowered and enough.
Tell me, what journey are you on?