May 14, 2011

Sailing And Simplicity At Sea

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain

Sailboats symbolize many things I cherish - simplicity, sustainability, nature, and freedom. It was with great interest, then, that I listened to a friend tell me about his recent purchase of a small sailboat, his first ever.

He was particularly proud of the fact that he bought his first sailboat before his first car. He is an avid cyclist, and is not planning on making that first car purchase any time soon. He won't need a car where he is going.

My sailor friend is letting go of the shore completely, and will be downsizing to the simplicity of living at sea. In the small space of his sailboat, every nook and cranny will be packed with the most basic of gear. Only the most useful items make it on board.

American sailor, Robin Lee Graham, was 16 years old in 1965 when he set out on a solo westward circumnavigation in his sailboat the Dove. He took 5 years to complete his journey, and when done said, "At sea, I learned how little a person needs, not how much."

I don't have a sailboat, but I can view my set of possessions as the boat that carries me on the sea of life. And every once in a while, like the good sailor I am, I must assess my performance, as well as the performance of my vessel.

Am I the captain of my own ship? Am I feeling the freedom of my journey? Am I discovering how little I need? Have I plotted a realistic path? Am I traveling light, and as sustainably as possible? Do I need to jettison anything? Am I maintaining the order, service, and discipline I require to make this passage?

May the wind be in your sails, for on the sea of life, that wind is more dear than money. With some guidance and skill, it will safely blow you to untold adventure and discovery, while leaving the waters untainted for those sailors who will follow.

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