Whatever Floats Your Boat

“Whatever Floats Your Boat” is a common expression which means “Do whatever makes you happy”.  Do Whatever Makes You Happy is a life view that people promote. One lesson often downplayed in living with a Whatever Floats Your Boat approach is to periodically check to see if things are alright.

You see it all over. Programs/Ads/Gurus tell you to set your goals and work hard towards to achieve happiness. Don’t let obstacles get in the way. Challenges only make you stronger. Do what makes you happy no matter what – seems to be the message. Whatever Floats Your Boat – go for it.

Sunset on Lake Nipissing
Sunset on Lake Nipissing with Manitou Island in the distance

I was with a friend, Jimmy, and my wife, Maureen, on his boat in Lake Nipissing near North Bay, Ontario. I was there for the ride and to watch my wife cast her fishing line into the water. It was the first time that week that we were able to go out on the lake because of rough waters. The lake is fairly shallow and winds can easily cause white caps.

Maureen had barely got her line in the water when Jimmy said, “I don’t want to be nasty or anything, but we gotta turn back”, as he pointed behind us. What had been a calm lake was being whipped up by winds and white capped waves were forming. Bowing to his wisdom, we packed up and headed to shore. It was a rough ride back.

Jimmy recounted a time when two young men had rented a cottage besides his home. They asked him if it was possible to canoe across to the Manitou Islands – a distance of about 3 miles (5 Km).

Jimmy told them it could be done – but also cautioned them that the lake could change quickly and become dangerous.

They headed out on their goal to reach the islands. They were making good time across. Sometime along the way, the winds picked up and the waves started getting rough. Being young and strong, they continued to their objective. The lads kept paddling and paddling despite the conditions worsening. Finally, exhaustion overtook them and now their lives were in danger as the canoes took water. Luckily, they were rescued by a passing tourist boat. The lads were lucky to make it out alive.

I see this in many folks who take on a goal. They paddle towards it furiously, oblivious of the changing surroundings or circumstances. Then they are overcome by it. It could be a physical fitness goal where you work so hard that you injure yourself, or a career goal where you single-mindedly strive for a position only to find that the company goes under.

There is an underlying lesson. It is true that whatever goals you want to achieve are worthy – do “Whatever Floats Your Boat”. However, you must regularly look over your shoulder and check – determine if the weather is changing so that you can adjust your sights.

Dock on Lake Nipissing
Dock on Lake Nipissing


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s