Who’s steering this ship?

I am a descendant of the great navigators of the Pacific. My people conquered the ocean, journeying across thousands of miles of open water to inhabit and populate the remote islands of Polynesia. They did this for centuries before the great European explorers traversed the same waters and made numerous attempts to conquer those same islands and its proud people. Polynesians navigated the ocean using the stars, the currents, birds and the winds. They sailed for months on end, rationing their water and food supplies or living off the fish of the sea and rain water. And they did it all in double-hulled boats carved from mighty koa trees and fitted with sails. I’m amazed by their ingenuity and their dedication to the seafaring spirit.

Sailing is one of my all-time favorite past-times. Sadly, (as Super Mom will readily attest to) I have not inherited the navigational skills of my ancestors. Of the dozens of times that Super Mom and our sons have sailed around San Diego Harbor in a catamaran I’ve only dumped us into the water once. This is something that I’m very proud of. I could only wish that I had a perfect record because every time I bring up sailing now Super Mom will only mention that one instance when we spilled into the drink. She will conveniently disregard the other times when I’ve kept us all safely on deck. True to her motherly instincts, even once is too many.

Super Mom and I are forbidden to sail a boat together.

For years until that fateful day two years ago when I dumped us into the chilly waters in San Diego Harbor (Super Mom was born and raised there), we have always rented two boats. One captained by Super Mom, the other captained by yours truly.

Why? Because when we’re in a boat together there is bound to be mutiny! I like to sail with the ocean spitting salt spray in my face, the wind slapping my fleshy cheeks and the only sound that can be heard above the roar of the surf is the sound of the screams of my crew as we carve haphazardly and carefree through the water. Go big or go home, right?

Super Mom on the other hand takes a tactical, business-like approach to sailing. She masterfully maneuvers about the bay exercising extreme caution, allowing only a sufficient amount of sail to be dispensed between the main and the jib and always hitting her mark when she brings the boat back in to safe harbor.

The two philosophies and styles are radically contrasting and it’s a miracle that Super mom and I can run a household let alone the lives of five other individuals with such different approaches to so many aspects of life. Anyone who has spent a significant amount of time with us knows that we’re such very different individuals. Even a short time in a room with the two of us will give you an immediate and impactful look at how different we really are outside of the obvious; a literal “beauty and the beast” in the flesh.

What you should also know, besides our palpable inability to sail together is that despite our differences, we are absolutely meant for each other. We both have very strong opinions about varying topics and different views on even mundane things, but there is no question for us – our differences are actually what makes us stronger as a team.

It is important to note that it wasn’t always that way. Like young, inexperienced sailors on the raging seas, it took us time to understand that even though we’ve been taught the best ways to navigate through the treacherous waters towards a successful marriage and rearing a family, there is not just one way to sail a boat. We realized through trial and error that we just have to find the way that is best for us when the currents, the winds, heavenly bodies and birds are the telling signs in how we should traverse the troubled waters that so often become perilous to so many love-struck couples. Even when the waters are calm, there will inevitably be undertones and dangers that lurk much deeper and are less visible to the naked eye and our perception of the things that float upon the surface.

At times our marriage is a lot like our sailing philosophies but we’ve learned that we can never survive when there are two captains at the helm. We’ve also learned that though our differences may be many, we will always be united in our purpose – to raise God-fearing, honest, strong, dependable and compassionate men who will soon be father’s to their own children in the not-so-distant future.

Through the years Super Mom and I have had our share of upheavals. There have been communication gaps, financial struggles and other issues that are common amongst married couples. But we have relied heavily upon our faith and the belief that our love is much more important to our family and to each other than any differences we might have. We’re still going to have struggles, but we have learned that steering the ship that is our lives together, is much easier than allowing the pervasive influence of the world outside of our own home to interfere with something that is right; something that is good; something that is worthwhile.

I may not be as adept at plotting a course across the oceans that my forefathers once did. I do not have a desire to master that feat in the way that they once did even though I love the ocean and the liberating feeling that comes with being on its open expanse. But I like to think that steering my marriage and my family through the perils of life with Super Mom is about all the adventure I need, and I’m loving the journey!

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4 Responses to Who’s steering this ship?

  1. Cy Moananu says:

    Love how you’ve developed wisdom over the years of trial & experience.

  2. Alex Arona says:

    Another great article Uso. I’ve learnt alot of lessons from this journey called life. Manuia le aso ma fuafuaga o totoe.

    • Seti Matua says:

      Thanks Alex – there’s a lot to be said of the wisdom that most accumulate through the years. I regret thinking my parents knew nothing when I was young. Have a great week!

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