How to Fight Scurvy & Other Lessons From the Pilgrims

Once upon a time, there was a group of people who dreamed of a life without limitations. They were a prayerful bunch of entrepreneurs and risk takers who wanted a freedom they had never experienced but knew was theirs for the taking.

The Pilgrims wanted the freedom to worship as they chose. Freedom to own land. Freedom to make their own wealth. And while no one’s dream was exactly the same, they were bound together by the seed that was sprouting in their souls, whispering thoughts of a big New World.

Lessons Learned: Listen to that voice. It’s giving you ideas that may seem crazy, but when you really get down to it, there’s nothing crazier than ignoring your dreams. 

So off they went, in the fall of 1620, on a ship called the Mayflower. They voyaged long and far (sixty-six days to be exact) across the Atlantic Ocean. Their journey was grueling. The waters were rough and with limited food and clean water, the treacherous crossing was made even more unbearable.

By the time they reached their New World, in what is today known as Cape Cod, nearly half of the passengers had died. The suffering and illness would continue through the bleak winter, and the Pilgrims were sequestered aboard the Mayflower until spring. With wet, frozen clothing and no fresh food to eat, most of the remaining Pilgrims became violently ill with scurvy and pneumonia.

Lessons Learned: Pursuing your dreams is not easy. It’s hard work. You must go in prepared. Be ready to hunker down for the long “winter.” Be patient. Ride the waves. Nothing worth having comes easy. 

When spring finally arrived, the remaining Pilgrims made their way to land. Unsure of how to cultivate this land they had so desperately sought, they continued to suffer from malnutrition and starvation.

That is until help arrived.

Squanto was a member of the Pawtuxet tribe. Sold into slavery years before and forced to live in London, Squanto had learned to speak English. By 1620, he had traveled across the Atlantic Ocean once more to make his way back home.

Seeing that the Pilgrims needed help, Squanto taught them how to plant and harvest corn, fish, and pull sap from trees. His patience and kindness ensured their survival.

Lessons Learned: When you think that the bleak winter of your life will never end, fresh blades of green grass shoot their way through hard soil and life begins again. Help comes in in ways you may least expect. Don’t allow your hardships to keep you from helping others. When in doubt ask yourself, “What would Squanto do?”

In November of 1621, one year after the Pilgrims arrived, they had their first successful corn harvest. In celebration, they planned their first Thanksgiving feast and invited Squanto and his tribe to join them.

Lessons Learned: As if survival, food, and friendship are not enough to be thankful for, there is a whole new world waiting for us to discover. Never underestimate what you can accomplish in a year. Make new friends. Share your knowledge. Bring each other up. Celebrate like it’s 1621. 

Oh, and about all of the Pilgrims who died of scurvy?

Lessons Learned: Scurvy is an illness caused by a vitamin C deficiency. Be sure to get your daily allowance of vitamin C by adding plenty of orange juice to your champagne today.

I’m thankful for mimosas. Aren’t you?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

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