musings about life…from a boat

hope floats…and the mind wanders

In the warmer month of September, my salty wannabe partner and I bought a sailboat. This wasn’t quite a whim as much as it was a compromise: a boat could be cheaper than therapy and it’s something we could do together or with friends and family (once we re-learn the fine art of sailing). And, in fact, having the boat has been a lovely blend of wonderful and challenging, which is exactly like therapy, right?

Our little (24 foot) boat’s name is Esther (named after the grandmother of the Episcopal Priest who owned her before). She’s not spectacular or fancy, and she needs a bit of work and tender loving care, but she floats beautifully and her sails get us moving (when the wind cooperates). Being on her makes me happy, and in the few times we’ve taken her out onto the lake, I’ve noticed so many different things about myself and the ways I navigate the world. So, as is my tendency, I made a list and I named it:

a yogi boater’s manifesto for life:

  • Plans are a nice start, but be ready to ditch or alter them to account for weather conditions, things that don’t work, things that go missing, or things that get broken. Crazy mix-ups happen. Be prepared for the crazy. Which leads me to;
  • Look around and know your surroundings. It’s as important to know the workings of the boat and the rules of the road water as it is to have a sense of what is happening outside of the boat. Obstacles could lie underneath the surface of the water, tides could shift, and wind conditions can change at any time. Be aware and be prepared. And then;
  • Let go of control. You aren’t in it. (Also known as the “Aparigraha” or “non- grasping” principal). It’s far more enjoyable to stay in the moment and recognize that I can’t control the wind or the experience of the other people on the boat. I can only be here now. And that’s really enough. In fact, it’s better than enough- when I let go and open up to the moment and what’s happening in it, it can be really fabulous. Worrying about what could happen only takes away from appreciating what is happening.
  • Not only is the world changing, but you are, too. I have to remind myself on a daily basis that I’m getting older (which means my body might not always do the things I’d like it to do). Despite the fact that I ride my bike to work, practice yoga on a regular basis, and feel relatively spry and flexible, getting on and off a boat isn’t as easy as it was when we lived aboard in our twenties. This is humbling, to say the least. And it’s a good reminder to continue to do the things that keep me moving as well as to slow down and pay attention.
  • The need for order (Shaucha, people). Just because it’s a small boat doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be shipshape. As much as I crave and actually prefer smaller spaces, I go insane with chaos. And chaos is easier to spot in tighter quarters. Besides aesthetics, it’s also extraordinarily important to be able to find that thingamajig or the whatsamawho at a moment’s notice.
  • Being barefoot on a boat is as good as being barefoot on the earth. I have a friend who once told me that he could tell if I had gone more than a reasonable period of time without letting my feet touch the earth. I will now add the surface of a boat to that statement. If the sun is shining, I prefer to let my feet breathe in the air (even when it’s cold). This is why I keep wooly socks on board.
  • The body holds memory of movement. After being on a boat all day, one might notice the sensation of movement when standing still. A good reminder that what we do stays with us- so be thoughtful of how you treat your body (and mind, for that matter).

4 thoughts on “musings about life…from a boat

  1. What a beautiful post. I have always lived close to water and was indeed born next to water. I think the main reason that my ex husband became my ex husband was because he kept insisiting on moving me further and further away from it. I live on the river now and am able to see it from my kitchen window and it soothes me like nothing else can. I love the smell of it, the sight of it and the way that it bleeds into you and makes you feel whole and somehow more complete than you really are. My dad had a yacht that he lusted after for his whole working life. He bought it with his superannuation and must have enjoyed it for a time but for his last 10 years of life it just sat there and occasionally got fished off. It’s a bit like buying a dog and chaining it up…what a waste! We did go out in it for one Christmas a few years before he died and I hadn’t seen him so happy in years. I am really glad that you both got the chance to buy something that has given you real inner happiness…what price happiness eh? 🙂

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