At the cottage last summer, my brother Bill rigged the Hobie Cat 18′, a catamaran with a tall black mast and rainbow-colored sails, while his wife and I watched…… It’s the third or fourth in a generation of Hobies that have sailed forth from our beach.
The first generation had been an insightful purchase on our father’s part: a “hot, new toy” that my brother, as a young adult, would love. And it just so happened that toy also meant his son would experience the joy of the salt water, healthy competition, and friendships engaging in a shared sport.
There were races — “race you there!”– and then there were races. Like the one held in the late ’70s and early ’80s from the point of Shackelford Banks (where the Outer Banks trace the North Carolina coastline) to Cape Lookout. Sails like these were always filled with adventure–exhilarating speeds through ocean swells, through driving sheets of salt spray… The trick was to achieve the fastest speed without causing a forward pontoon to submarine into a wave, bringing the boat to a wallowing crawl. The race rules required a crew member, upon arriving at Cape Lookout, to touch the lighthouse. What a sight: the strongest runner from among the crew seeming as if in slow motion running through the deep sand! A good sail meant a few bruises and usually someone losing an article of clothing–sunglasses, hat, or even a shoe–and plenty to talk about upon returning to shore.
As my brother, his wife, and I set sail last summer, Bill is on the sheets, the lines that adjust the mainsail and the smaller sail, the jib. I am on the tiller, which besides steering the boat is the equivalent of a car’s accelerator. His wife is providing the perfect light ballast essential to keeping us upright and sailing at fastest speed. There is a relaxing into… a working with the wind, the water, the boat and this crew. It’s still work but it’s a different kind of work where one is right in the middle of the being and doing. There’s plenty of energy for the task at hand and for fullness. The boat sings her own song when all is trimmed well.
Sailing now, decades after the speed and exhilaration of sailing in our teens and early twenties, we bring with us new experiences, new frames of reference to integrate with and build upon the past. We feel our strength here and now, creating wisdom from all that has gone before. It is, in my opinion, the beauty of maturing and coming to life in a new way, whether leading at work or in the rest of our lives. We come to life from a centered place-a place of power and plenty–with a respect for the past, the present, and whatever time is left to us. Indeed, our lives sing their own song, because all–the sails that capture the winds of change and growth in our lives–is trimmed well.
U.S. Library of Congress ISSN 2164-7240
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