“Columbus’ glory is not in that he discovered, but in that he weighed anchor”
-Bartolome De La Casas
Today is an “weigh anchor” kind of day: I went to the courthouse and filed for divorce.
This isn’t a “ball and chain” reference to my ex-wife. I don’t see her as a hunk of iron that was holding me down. It’s about taking a risk; it’s about moving forward.
I recently read a biography of Christopher Columbus. I’m not trying to start a debate about who was really the first to discover the Americas (God…then the Vikings), whether or not Columbus had a secret map (but I really think he did), or when his official log book was altered and by whom (but I would suspect either the Spanish courts or one of Columbus’ sons). However as I read the story, I was struck by the quote at the top of this post from a man who knew both Columbus and the scandal theories that surrounded him even in his own time. Regardless of the outcome, Columbus took a risk, weighed anchor and pointed his bow West (more likely South then West, but again I digress).
The term “to weigh anchor” can be traced back to an old French term which literally meant “to make straight” or “properly measure”. The term was used to describe the relationship of the anchor to the rode (chain). When the anchor was “out”, it was not straight in line with the rode; when the anchor was “aweigh” (queue the Navy marching band), the shank and rode hang in line. Of course with the anchor aweigh, the ship is adrift and requires the skill of the Captain and crew to keep it on course. There is great risk involved, but great reward for those who are able to navigate the seas ahead.
Many of those who have taken this step of initiating a divorce can attest to the mixed emotions that come with it. There is a sense of anticipation, fear, anxiety, relief and resolve. Much like I imagine it would be to set out to sea hoping to discover new things, doubt and confidence live oddly side by side in the mind. There is a bunch of stuff “on the shore” behind me; stuff I will miss, that hurts to leave behind or see changing. There are people on the journey with me for whom I have a great sense of responsibility and my heart is heavy with their thoughts, fears and concerns.
Being the one who files often comes with the stigma of “being the bad guy”. I don’t feel like the bad guy right now. I feel like I’m doing what needs to be done. I feel like I’ve given it all I could and it has run its course. Now it’s time.
Ultimately, once the anchor is aweigh, there is no turning back. The tide is rolling out; it’s time to trim the sheets and hold the rudder firm.
Bow to the west.