I could hike the Appalachian Trail. I could hitchhike to California. I could WWOOFF in a South American Country, and learn Spanish. I could teach English in China. I could join the Peace Corps.
My father the other day joked with my uncle who asked why I was doing this and said ‘to escape from the sufferings of this world, the trials and tribulations.’ My aunt asked why I was doing it alone. My mother does not want to know much about it.
I Am Sailing
What is it about being on the ocean that stirs this growing necessity within me? Why do I need to do it? Why am I not alone with this sentiment? Why do I feel like a better person after each outing?
Sailing is a continuous fight for maximum efficiency in a constantly changing environment. I tell friends I sail because it is a forced, constant, and pleasing meditation. Meditation is the practice of developing awareness of the present moment. In the fight for efficiency in a world of impermanence comes the necessity for keen awareness of your surroundings. Even in leisurely outings and moments, where grip on the sheet is relaxed to take in a view, I am aware of my surroundings; the wind, the waves, the balance of the boat, the trim on my mizzen, a threatening storm cloud - a myriad of impermanence. The view is more vivid because of the effort put into a day of persistent focus on the present; a view that for someone who motors over to the same spot will see less of. Sailing, unlike any other opportunity we have, is exceptionally effective at teaching us mindfulness. To be able to reside in the present moment directly applies to our quality and the quality of our lives. I am aware of people who can mindlessly sail, but again, sailing is unique as an activity in that its easier to do mindfully.
Visions of the future.
Now, without going too crazy here, I must mention that having a good relationship with the present moment allows greater familiarity with the interconnectedness that is our reality. Watching this video will help me communicate with you more clearly and its pretty cool too.
Sometimes, a strong feeling of direct connection with stars and everything around you washes over you. It is almost paralyzing; but when you think about it, it feels good. You feel small at first. With some thought, you feel connected, and when you are connected to everything you end up feeling pretty big. My point is, when you solo sail for longer periods of time, fantastic opportunities to feel small abound.
Well of soul searching; also can be used as anchor well.
For me, the most wholesome and enriching experience for the soul is feeling small. It does not take a near death experience to conjure the small feeling, but that works. A physical experience I think is most common, like taking in all at once a mountain range. Mental experiences work as well, like the shocking realization that you are 1 in 7 billion. Most of the time I have to provoke and tease these experiences from my thinking: I was hiking through that range all day but kept my thoughts on my equipment. Or, I have known that fact but not really thought about it. Sometimes, and more valuable, my surroundings ambush and spring the small feeling on me overwhelmingly. It is in these moments that my ego is truly put in check, the clouds clear, and I have a fuller perspective on life. You feel calmer and directed. However, in either case, the feeling never lasts as long as I would like.
Cockpit of eternal ‘hot sun’ awareness.
Solo sailing a small boat for a long period of time means living in a world of constant change and impermanence you need keen awareness of in order to do well. Sounds like a metaphor for life to me. Put that metaphor on a boat at the beginning of the river that is your life and you really got something. I will have the infinity of stars above, solitude, sailing, and the ocean surrounding me. This will inspire the steady, bone-soaking understanding of interconnectedness and smallness I want to carry with me in the forefront of my life. If this does not work, I am on the ocean where there is always a chance my life will be threatened!