The jury is still out on proving that if you run in a downpour, you get wet quicker than if you walk steadily and slowly. However, running will not only have you soaked to the skin in seconds by hitting both the top of your head and your front, there’s also the added chance that you’re going to slip, fall and possibly break something.

It’s a well-known fact (that term always has me shuddering, as “facts” are usually as bountiful as hen’s teeth) that when there’s lightning around, the safest thing to do is stay away from metal, tall trees, golf umbrellas and, if you are in an open field, lie down—become the flattest thing, the lowest—inconspicuous.

Ever tried out-shouting thunder? Or flipping the finger at a hurricane? Attacking hail with a baseball bat may result in a fleeting frisson of satisfaction, but it surely isn’t going to make them stones go away.

Sailors know that the safest place to sit out a tsunami is not in the harbour, tied to the dock with more lines than a serial philanderer; it’s out there … in as deep, quiet water as possible. As scary as that feels, the safest thing to do is head out to sea.

And fair weather? Besides eventually becoming monotonous, no-one ever learned anything from continuous fair weather. Exposing yourself to constant sun results in getting burned, sometimes so severely it will take a long time to build new protective layers.

We, the human race, have a problem with letting things go, being quiet, getting our ego out of the way and thus staying safe. We have this insane need to constantly “talk about things” in an attempt to reach consensus, to go for mediation to salve both egos—an impossibility. We pick at scabs until they bleed, we worry a sore point until it is swollen again to the point of bursting, we squeeze blackheads until they pop, leaving open holes.

We need to be right, we need to argue a point, we need to keep score. We have to come out the winner. We cannot ignore the elephant in the room; it must be confronted, it must be brought into the open, chased around an already confined space, fed, beaten to death. We have to butt-sniff every perceived wrong, every argument, every slight, every misunderstanding until one of the parties has had enough, turns around and retaliates and the war is on again.

Ever confronted an elephant? My years among the wildlife of Africa taught me many things about elephants and one of them is “do not confront an elephant.” Stay quiet and invisible—it will eventually leave. Open yourself up and you could get trampled by said same elephant attempting to return to the herd; or be turned into minced meat by the herd coming to rescue their perceived distressed mate. Whichever, the path of circumspection and safety is to remain silent.

Years of sailing and diving the oceans taught me many things about the weather that have helped when dealing with others.

In a thunderstorm, the tallest thing on the ocean is the mast of your ship. Lightning conductors are a must and getting off the deck is a very good idea—in fact, the only idea. Standing on deck, trying to score points off the weather because hey, this is my ship and we have to first do this, we must get these lines tied off and put these things away quickly or we might lose them overboard, is going to get you only one place—struck. And that goes for all on deck. All those things you should simply have let go overboard? Well, if they aren’t fried to a crisp, they’ve gone overboard anyway.

There are no winners in a relationship—there shouldn’t be; that’s not what relationships are about. If there constantly has to be a winner, it isn’t a relationship, it’s a competition or a war.

And while it’s extremely important to face conflict and iron out differences to become aware of the other side’s standpoint, to create peace; there comes a time when no matter how much talking gets done things simply get worse. This is when we need to let go, lower the sails, batten down the hatches, become the least. When surface waters are turbulent, head for the depths until the storm has passed. It will eventually; as will the elephant leave the room.

Image: Old Wooden Boat via Shutterstock