Journey to Joy (Day 7): Sir Francis Drake’s Voyage Launched in 1577


On this day in history in 1577, Sir Francis Drake relaunched his infamous voyage around the world.  I thought it would be a good day for me to relaunch my own Journey to Joy.

The last three months of my life have been arduous.  I have been lower than a snake’s belly.

Yet, some beautiful guardian angels have appeared and have joined my posse.  I am blessed.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about Lisa Scottoline’s  riff on Columbus’ navigating uncharted waters in Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog:

Columbus set out into uncharted territory, against all odds, risking his life to follow a dream, believing profoundly in himself, and God.

Columbus and Sir Francis Drake didn’t set out to change the world.  But, they did.

We sometimes forget that almost every leap forward in history was accomplished by ordinary people with the courage to do extraordinary things.  Some were accidental discoveries.  Some were the result of dogged persistence.  Some folks got all fired up by injustices or personal tragedies.  The common thread, however, is that they were ordinary folks who made history.

This morning I learned the Golden Hind, Sir Francis Drake’s infamous ship, was a mere 120 feet long.  I love to sail, but there’s no way I’d take to the open seas in such a small boat.  I certainly wouldn’t try to sail through the Strait of Magellan in such a small boat.  And, I would have the benefit of GPS and a myriad of technical gizmos to keep me out of trouble.

Sir Francis Drake only had the stars to guide him.  No e-mail.  No cell or satellite phones.  No Coast Guard.  He has his crew and a couple of decades of sailing experience.  His longest previous voyages had been from England to the Caribbean.  It appears he intended to sail around South America, loot the ports, and find the Northwest Passage to sail back to England.

The problem with his plan was that there wasn’t a Northwest Passage.  And, the Spanish would be waiting for him if he dared sail back home around South America.

What to do?

He knew Magellan’s ship had circumnavigated the world.  He had a seasoned crew, a worthy ship, and his navigational skills.  So, he decided to sail the uncharted waters of the Pacific.  The map above charts his voyage.

I like to think that the idea of best practices was pioneered by my colleagues and me in the early 1980s.  But, this morning I realize best practices have been around throughout recorded history.  Ancient mariners created maps of their voyages.  Those maps were highly guarded state secrets.

Today’s corporations protect their best practices and intellectual property with patents.

In many respects, survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, and incest are navigating life without a map.  Yes, there’s help out there.  But, too manyof us are in the same position as ancient mariners ~ the maps of those who have sailed these waters before us don’t get shared.  Survival secrets are hidden behind walls of silence.

I think it is time to break down those walls of silence and join Lisa Scottoline’s “tea bag” revolution.  She lives in the Philadephia area which is where the Declaration of Independence was written on my Rittenhouse ancestor’s paper.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton started the women’s movement by editing that infamous document to include women.

Who says we can’t be stars?

As I chart my own journey, I’m going to post every day about a brave person who has taken a sledgehammer to that wall of silence until I have shared all the stories in my extensive library.  I invite you, dear readers, to leave comments and suggestions on your own role models.

Visit my Life Rafts category and page for my collection of survivor stories.

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