I went on a jet-ski ride last summer with two of my oldest friends. A jet-ski, for the uninitiated, is one a two or three-person watercraft, pretty much the boat equivalent of a motorcycle. It turns out that maybe putting three full grown adults on a tiny little vessel on the best river in the world (the St. Lawrence, obviously) on a windy day is…challenging.
It was a bumpy ride, and it involved a lot of clinging, clutching, and generally trying not to end up thrown off or tipped over.
Now, I’m an optimizer. So as I clenched my legs around the bench seat and grabbed my friends for dear life, I kept looking for the perfect grip. The precise way to brace my legs and flex my feet and hang on that would keep me safe through every splash and buffet. I tested different ways to sit and lean and hold.
And – of course – by the end of the ride I realized you can’t optimize a rough river. There was no perfect position to hold. Only the best way to grab on for this wave, and clench for that turn, and duck through the particular gust of wind I was facing. The closest thing I had to an optimal approach was to wish I had spent more time weightlifting.
By the time we made it back to the dock I realized it was a life lesson. There’s no perfect handhold for life, either. All we can do is build our strength and be ready to grab on when need to.