The sooner we learn to be jointly responsible, the easier the sailing will be.
~Ella Maillart

My uncle loves to sail. He is a highly intelligent man and knowledgeable in many subjects including art (he is an artist), philosophy, literature, technology, writing, and, yes, the thorn in my side, computers. Sailing appears to be one of the most freeing experiences one can encounter in life. To be out on the water sounds incredible and calming and exhilarating (especially to someone who has no sea legs and turns a ghastly shade of green).

Since most objects or experiences can be life metaphors, sailing is no different. While feelings of bliss and joy come from feeling the sea beneath us (so I’ve heard) or looking out over the vast expanse of sparkling waters on a clear day, a dark side of nature exists. Seasoned sailors are aware of this reality. They are prepared and ready to battle it, if necessary, in order to survive. This knowledge is in the forefront of their minds at all times.

How similar is life with sunny days cast suddenly into shadow or unexpected summer storms that arrive with fury. We don’t have to be sailors to respect nature and life. We can live knowing, that at any moment, we might have to fight to survive, that the feelings of bliss we are encountering, at the moment, might end, that we have to be in the now, in the present, to taste life, breathe it in, let it fill our senses, to appreciate it. We try to not let the storms take away our sunlight. We get our life legs under us and stand, sometimes, kneel, and, other times, fall.

Yet, we keep on and, in the keeping on, learn what we must, that which comes from not giving up easily, refusing not to deceive ourselves, being honest, knowing that, in some aspects of our lives, we steer our own ships, saying “I’m sorry” when we mess up, forgiving, having awareness of ourselves and others, appreciating the azure skies (however fleeting) and even the billowing thunderheads that remind us that life is change, and that we bring about positive or negative effects depending on our actions, words, and life views.

(Uncle, if you’re reading this, I hope one day to sail with you. It  doesn’t have to be a long trip. I’d be thrilled to make it a short time without feeling sick. In that moment, I hope to experience the feelings of freedom and peace and exhilaration you encounter out on the water.) 

22 thoughts on “Sailing”

  1. Perfectly reflected, I miss the days of being able to stand on the deck with the wind blowing through my hair. The days where I could get lost in the smells and sounds, feeling at one with life. I hope you get your wish and your ‘sea legs’.

  2. I love sailing but I never considered the parity to life. This concept really resonates with me because I feel aspects of my life heading towards tumultuous water from time to time but I considered them to be another worthy experience. Thank you for providing this context for me, I find this blog to be inspiring :).

  3. Is a very beatifull history!!!!!
    A wonderful metaphorical image!!!
    Thank you for this flower petal of the your Soul 🙂
    A fraternal embrace

  4. I spent the better part of my youth on the water, admittedly not a sail boat,but on the water still. I loved it when daddy cut the motor and we just sat and drifted. We actually did that a lot. He was knowledgeable, he grew up on the Atlantic and spent time in Florida fishing off the southern most tip. I could relax, of course he was my dad and could do anything, but when it was just he and i it was a special cocoon of safety and security I had. Thank you for this post, brought back some very warm memories, which I really don’t have many of.

    1. Awh, I’m glad it sparked a good memory for you. Sounds like special times with your dad. We need to keep those memories alive. After nearly losing my dad twice, I hang on to all of the great times and try to appreciate the present. Dads have the way (certain dads) of making us feel secure and loved.

      When it comes to boats, I can survive on flat water without getting sick! Love a good rowboat on a quiet lake!

  5. Sailing is a perfect metaphor for life. And as we’re out seafaring, storms will come. Like now, when the world is troubled and the best we can do is hunker down and endure the icy winds. Enjoyed your poetic prose, dear Pam, and I’ve loved the song for many a year now.

  6. i live about 500 steps from the beach. all summer, about 8 catamarans are parked by the dunes. on any given day, several head out to sea and back. i’m always amazed at the knowledge it must take to guide into the wind. i look in amazement, knowing that the wind is going left, but the boat is going right. i hope i get a chance to experience that with someone who knows what the hell they’re doing and how to explain it to me.

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