Dearest EXPLORE reader,
I’m fascinated by sailing.
Not “driving around Canyon Lake on a Bayliner” type time on the water, but the old-school “sailboat from Texas to Africa” type of sailing.
No engines. Just the wind.
And the depthless ocean supporting me with its deep dark mysteries hidden.
Sailing strikes me as the final great adventure for people. It’s been around since the dawn of time (literally), and its essentially the exact same mode of travel. Sure, there’s new technology and materials and electronic gizmos, but in the end, it’s a boat with a mast and a sail…and you’re entirely dependent on the wind for propulsion.
No wind. No movement.
You are entirely at the mercy of a force that you have zero control over. Hovering in water 12,000 feet above the ocean floor. In the literal middle of nowhere. All alone. No sounds. No people. No traffic. NOTHING. Just you, your creaky old boat, and sails that are snapping in the wind.
I have watched every movie based on sailing that has probably ever been filmed. If it’s got sailing in it, I’ve probably seen it. Even if the movie itself was bad, I just can enjoy it for the scenery and the details I tend to notice in the film.
All this said – I’ve never been on a sailing boat in my life.
Nobody in my family ever sailed, so I’ve never been exposed to it early on in life. None of my friends sail. We don’t exactly live next to a great sailing body of water in Kendall County, and let’s be honest, sailing is an activity typically reserved for those with large hunks of time to devote to the sport or pursuit of sailing. That’s definitely not a luxury I have. Last I checked, I can’t exactly hop on my trusty sailboat and split for Greece for 2 months.
One of the parts to sailing that captivates me is the actual navigation, because it’s most assuredly not precise. Yes, there are amazing GPS systems and auto-rudder systems nowadays, but even with these, they can only keep you on course to a certain degree.
Winds will forever blow you off course. Waves will adjust you. Winds will shift. They’ll pull you and push you and move you off course constantly despite your best efforts. It’s part of the “fun”. I find it fascinating that old time sailors would refer to their sextant and could roughly determine their location and direction and speed and continue to plot their course across the endless nothingness of the open ocean, while keeping their eyes peeled for the next situation that could end their lives quickly. And in a most terrifying way. And without knowing when they would run face first into a hurricane.
Sailing just seems so primitive and raw. So daring and brave. So timeless and genuine. So strong and so determined. So simple and so honest.
And just so damn REAL.
I think I also relate it back to life in general. As in, the process of sailing is much like the process of navigating our own lives.
Not sure about you, but I frequently pick a general direction for my life, and then proclaim proudly (insert whatever goal I have established that I will surely reach), such as “I’m going to get healthier!” or “I’m going to be less controlling!” or my favorite “I’m going to go to sleep each night by 10 pm!”
With this route planned, I buy the new tennis shoes, the workout equipment, and set my alarm a solid hour earlier so that I claim my great victory. I read the self-help book, and I work quickly to ensure all my work is done that will enable me to enjoy my new bedtime. I’m prepared and ready to go.
What happens is rarely what I have plotted.
I push off the dock with tons of motivation and inspiration and energy. And then the waves of life come, and I really don’t want to wake up early today for my workout, and this movie is awfully good and I don’t want to turn it off, and damn that ice cream looks good.
I deviate from my course.
Quickly and urgently I recognize my path and I re-check all my maps and the compass, re-align my rudder and I try again to follow my path. With nominal success. But you know what? I’m heading in a GENERAL direction and that’s better than being tied to the dock, right?
Sailing is hard. Life is harder.
There’s an impossible number of things that can go wrong while sailing and can cost you your life. In life, there are infinitely more things that can go wrong…and probably will in some form or fashion. Everything “fails” in one way or another. Nothing is ever seamless, and if it is, you probably did it wrong.
Chart your course. Make your plans. Set your goals and your destinations. Review and check your boat that you have all your supplies, and inventory your life and make sure you are properly equipped.
And then push away from shore, friends.
May the winds grab your sails, may you have smooth seas, and may your journey deviate only slightly from your intended path. But if it does, may you smile at your ability to recognize the shift, may you make the course adjustments, and may your journey be a huge part of the satisfaction of your trip.
And may you arrive at your destination with a large smile and a full heart at your adventure well lived.
Welcome to June. May you go out to our little Boerne Lake, take in the small sailboats that cruise the lake daily, may you EXPLORE your life and your goals, and may you chart your course with determination and resolve. And may you arrive at your destination on time and in one piece.