Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | December 2, 2008

Life by the Inch

In 150 days, 1 hour and 6 minutes, Dodge Morgan experienced the realization of a twenty-year dream. That’s how long it took the 53-year old Maine businessman to become the first American to sail alone around the world, without stopping, in 1986. The adventurous trip tested more than Morgan’s nautical skills and the soundness of his custom-built 60-foot cutter named American Promise. The 27,459 nautical mile trip also tested the soundness of Dodge Morgan as he dealt with loneliness and fatigue through periods of unbearable calm and unbelievable storms.

The half-way mark seemed to be one of the most difficult periods of the trip. Morgan commented that he felt like a runner whose legs had given out. But, he realized that he had thousands of miles left to sail and that stopping half-way was not an option. And so, as Morgan neared the half-way point of his trip, he looked at one of the six on-board cameras that silently chronicled his journey and said, “I may not be able to get through this day, but I can get through the next hour.” Morgan learned to face both the monotonous calms and the life-threatening storms one hour at a time. One of the on-board cameras recorded Morgan saying, “Calm down, stay with it, one hour at a time.”

Half-way to anywhere can be difficult. The half-way mark was discouraging for Morgan because he realized that he faced as many difficult days before him as were behind him. And so, he purposed to live the balance of his journey in manageable one-hour increments. His sanity, survival, and hope of success depended on his ability to steer his emotions and attitude, not just his vessel, in the right direction.

There are times in life when we become fatigued through life’s storms and impatient through life’s calms. Quite often the calms are more difficult than the storms. Perhaps this is because the storms of life cause our adrenaline to flow as we mobilize to meet challenges. The calms of life seem to drain away our vitality and vision. In either case, there is the danger in storms and calms that we might grow discouraged and feel that we cannot complete a task. That is when we need to break life down to manageable one-hour increments. Someone wisely observed, “Life by the yard is hard, but by the inch is a cinch!” Oversimplified? Perhaps. True? Yes!

Jesus reminds us to take life one day at a time, “Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34). As we sail through life may we not grow discouraged and leave tasks unfinished. Instead, may we learn to navigate through the storms and patiently endure the calms — one hour at a time! Let’s learn to live life by the inch.

• • • • •

Note | I recorded these thoughts on a legal pad in March 1991. Not long after this, I purchased my first computer. However, I still found it difficult to give up my legal pad and ball-point pen. But, eventually I did!


  1. Omar,

    I am trying to obedient these words in my life and teach others too. (Matt 6:34). I am keep doing meditations with these words, that Jesus taught His Disciples. These effectively in the works of my evangelisms. Many people are worried for them self’s for tomorrow including my self. So that it would be better to mentions to them again and again.

    Thanks for posts.


  2. For those who have run a marathon, most are familiar with ‘The Wall’…you usually hit it around mile 22-24 out of the 26.2. It’s the point when your body begins to shut down from exhaustion, the time when you are mentally and physically spent. During the Houston marathon I hit the wall around mile 23 on Allen Parkway heading back towards downtown Houston. All I wanted to do was lie down on the hard, rocky concrete, curl up in a ball, and cry. It was an inviting thought. But, instead, I kept putting one foot in front of the other and eventually crossed the finish line. Victory! Interestingly enough, our bodies are designed to become stronger by tearing them down. When a muscle is stressed, as with exercise, the trauma causes micro-tears in the muscle tissue. As the muscle heals, it heals stronger and larger than before. So it is with life….inch by inch and micro-tear by micro-tear…we will grow stronger in the end.

  3. Laura…

    Thanks for your perspective as a runner. Excellent insight!


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