One of the greatest natural phenomenon studied by oceanographers is called a rogue wave — also known as a freak wave. Rogue waves are considerably dangerous for a number of reasons: they’re rare, unexpected, and tremendously powerful.
The moments before a rogue wave are just fine. Everything is in order. There are stable water conditions. And then all of the sudden, without warning, it hits — a wave out of nowhere with the power to flip and strand the crew of an ocean liner.
There are no warning signs for a rogue wave — that’s what gives it the name “rogue.” That’s what makes it so unnerving. One moment everything is going along fine, and then the next — everything and everyone is drowning.
In my experience, life, like the ocean, works this way sometimes. One day, everything is going just fine. Everything is in order. The conditions seem good. And then all of the sudden, without warning, it all comes crashing down. Like the end of a long Jenga game you thought would go on forever. One piece is pulled and there goes the whole thing.
What’s so frightening is that these crashes can come out of nowhere. While you may be able to predict some wave occurring in the future — while you can conceptualize that bad things will happen, you cannot predict the severity or design. That’s just part of life.
And so when it all comes crashing down, we don’t know what to do. We are completely blindsided by anything that seems out of the ordinary (which really just means out of the realm of our previous experiences). We don’t know where to start picking up the wreckage.
All we know is that there we are — stranded in the middle of the ocean, searching for a lifeboat, wondering what the hell just happened.
It is in these moments that we are faced with choosing who we are and who we intend to become.
We are challenged by our ability to see and move beyond. To reveal our true character. To work harder or give up.
So, what’s the difference between a person that rides a metaphorical rogue wave to shore and one who drowns? What does the person who survives think, feel, and act like?