Old man in green woollen jumper and flat cap standing in a 20 foot orange painted wooden boat tied up by the shore. There is a wicker basket of mackerel in the water next to the boat.

Being swept towards the rocky shore

The outboard motor died, and the wind was blowing us onto the rocks of the small uninhabited island.
I was a fit 15-year-old. The Saighdear (pronounced sigh-chair) was well into his eighties. I got the oars out and the Saighdear tried to get the outboard restarted. My aunt sat quietly with a worried look on her face.
Logic tells you that was the right way round. Logic based on insufficient data is seldom right.
When younger I used to spend summers in the west coast of Scotland. The Saighdear, Gaelic for soldier, used to take me and my aunt fishing in The Inner Minch in that boat.
The Saighdear was in his late eighties and fit as a fiddle. He’d spent all his years around boats. Until he ‘retired’ from crofting to live on the big farm, the boat was his only mode of transport to reach a road, never mind a town.
Donald Findlayson, the Saighdear, had practiced rowing for decades, he had built the skills necessary to row efficiently. I, on the other hand, had rowed only on the local pond in light fibreglass leisure boats. I was more of a science geek than a sports star.
As the boat got nearer the rocks the Saighdear told the ‘young lad’ to give him the oars. After five minutes of rowing, the boat rounded the edge of the island, and the rocks were behind us.
Not only did the Saighdear know how to row efficiently, but he also knew that rounding the island was a better option than trying to fight the waves and the tide head-on. It bought us the time to get the outboard motor running again.
How often have we tried to beat the tide, the wind, and the waves, by ineffective brute force when we could have taken a less stressful path? This is a particularly important question if you are neurodivergent. Even when given the best advice available, it’s usually from a neurotypical viewpoint. It may be not the best course of action when you bring your unique spiky profile into the equation.
I learnt a lesson that day. Use the resources and skills you have in your boat wisely.
Unfortunately, by the time I entered the big corporate world, I had forgotten that lesson. My undiagnosed neurodiversity meant that I had to work hard against the headwind of office politics. I wasn’t aware of my needs and boundaries. I worked hard at being successful, I drained away the resources I had in my boat. Eventually, I burnt out. I wish I had remembered the lesson from that day on the sea.
What lessons from your youth have you forgotten to apply in your later life?

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