You are on a voyage across the sea, steering your vessel through the peaceful waves. The endless horizon stretches out before you, beckoning your eager soul to venture onward in search of what lies beyond. A brisk breeze brushes over your gleeful face as it catches the sails of your boat. All is blissful; all is calm.

The wind picks up and the peaceful waters start to turn rough as waves begin to smack against the sides of your boat. As you wrestle to keep the vessel on course, a shadow slowly comes over the deck of your ship. You turn to look up and feel your soul sink within yourself. Above, storm clouds begin to form, their shadow enveloping the waters around you. The clouds quickly fill the sky, blotting out the sun. Thunder rolls as fear grips you in its vicious talons.

Downpours drench you as you frantically try to maintain control of the ship. Waves crash over the deck as lightning shoots across the blackened heavens, the only source of light in the endless darkness.

The wind howls in your ears as you feel your grip loosening around the 
steering wheel. You glance around at all the watery carnage. Another bolt of 
lightning illuminates the impending doom. Your eyes widen in horror at the sight before you.

A giant tidal wave swiftly approaches your starboard side, its wall-like form rolling across the sea like a predator closing in on its prey. Before you have time to react, it pours over the deck, ripping you away from the steering wheel and washing you into the cold sea. You tumble in the waters, struggling to find which way is up.

Lightning flashes above, helping you see the surface. You start frantically pawing through the water, trying your best to hold your breath as you reach for the air above. You can feel your heart racing and lungs burning as you flail your arms through the water. Dark circles begin to creep into your vision, beckoning you to give up and give in to the inevitable doom that awaits you. You push onward, fighting with all your strength against the call of darkness. Your vision grows dimmer, and dimmer, and dimmer…

You break through the ocean surface and rapidly inhale the fresh, sea air, the taste of salt filling your mouth. Your vision returns, only to be greeted once more by the disparity of your circumstances. As you struggle to keep your head above water, you scan your surroundings just in time to see the last of your ship sink into the depths. A piece of debris floats toward you. With what little strength you have left, you pull yourself on, the rain pouring over you as you drift across the ocean to the unknown

So begins your unexpected odyssey.

On this journey we call life, there are events along the way that always catch us off guard, whether it is a natural disaster, a family tragedy, or a chronic illness. These events cause us to fall flat on our face, to lose control of the steering wheel. We spiral, falling into a place that is filled with despair and darkness. We toss and turn as we seek the answer to the infamous question: Why?

Why has this happened to me?

Sadly, we do not always get the answer we seek. The more we search for it, the more hopeless we become. Seeking to answer the “why” is a path that leads to madness.

Instead, have you ever asked the question: What?

What should I take away from this?

An odd question, yes? Even so, this question is a game changer.

How is it a game changer?

Though it does not have the power to change your circumstances, it does have the power to impact your perception of said circumstances. No matter what we experience, we have the choice to step back and see it for what it is, an unexpected odyssey. Is this an easy thing to do? Of course not. Our inherent nature is to react rather than to respond. When one is in the valley, it is hard for them to see the path that leads to the way out. It is only when they climb out of the valley and look at it in all its entirety that they are able to see clearly the right path to take and respond accordingly.

Am I saying you cannot react to things? By no means!

In the moment, you will react, it is just your nature. However, after this, take yourself out of the moment, look at it with a new perspective and ask yourself, “What can I learn from this? What can I take away from this unexpected odyssey that will aid me as I continue on my journey?”

That is what we are going to explore in this new series that I am bringing to you, my fellow travelers. Though I have only twenty or so years on this journey and have much more left to explore, I wanted to share with you some tools I have learned along the way and how they might help you as you continue your journey through whatever the endless horizon has in store on your unexpected odysseys.

Are you ready?