I’d rather be sailing

A few years back I was on my way out to the Channel Islands National Park to do some camping with a friend when something grabbed hold of us. It wasn’t a giant squid, though that would make for a better story. It wasn’t a sea creature of any kind. It was a bug, the curious kind of bug that bites and never, ever lets go, opening up some deep part of the soul to say, “Yeah, that looks a fine thing to do. I want to do that.”

About a month later we, along with three other friends, started sailing lessons in Newport harbor.

I saw it in the midst of its natural habitat and I immediately knew this was not only something I would love, this would be something that taps into my deeper self. Maybe it was that Norse blood of mine, evident in my last name and even more evident if you were to see pictures of my father, grandfather, and uncles. The sea calls strongly in this blood, and I heard it call. Maybe not to harass rich, unprotected monasteries, but at the very least to feel the wind and waves on the open sea.

I can’t explain the love because it was immediate and profound. It was something for me to do, something who expresses who I am. Why?

I think of what it might be, trying to move past the vague enthusiasm and find something which illustrates my soul. I think it might have something to do with the wind.

I am not a very good contemporary sort of male, I find. I don’t like things with loud engines and I don’t really enjoy that which tears up the environment or asserts one’s own will on nature. I’d rather feel the road, or paddle through the waves, or sail along on the ocean, with the only sounds being the wind blowing past, my own breathing, and the calls of whatever nature is nearby.

In sailing, especially, one has to become attune to the world around. Every whisper of wind, every change of wave, become messages. Listening to these messages becomes the secret to success. Noticing the nuances can make the difference between moving fast or not moving at all.

A sailor is pressed to participate in this natural world and there are few feelings as grand as when one reads it all right and the boat goes flying along. It is magnificent.

This all comes to mind because I got a ticket earlier today. Not the good kind. The kind men in official uniforms, driving official cars, make a big deal out of giving a person. They put on a little light show and parade across the lanes of the freeway so we can wave at all the passers-by.

In fifteen years of driving I have never received a ticket, so it bothered me a bit. Though it really shouldn’t bother me too much as I didn’t do anything wrong. Yeah, I got a ticket without doing anything wrong. It was my passengers. They were each shooting a 9mm out the window at other cars.

No. That’s not it. Neither were wearing their seatbelt, so I got pulled over when the kindly Highway Patrolman noticed.

Which is why I thought of sailing. Not just because I would have much rather been sailing instead of getting a ticket (“I’d rather be sailing” is a fairly general policy for me at all times). It’s because I wondered about the process that got me pulled over.

We happened to be merging into the same lane as two freeways combined. He slowed down, I sped up a bit in order to keep from hitting each other. My offramp was his offramp, as my brother lives down the street from the Highway Patrol station, and I was driving with my parents on my way too my brother’s after a Father’s day meal. Our paths converged, which gave him a long time to gaze into our otherwise entirely innocuous car, long enough to gaze at all the things which weren’t exactly legal, such as the precarious safety precautions of my parents.

The timing was bad. That’s what it came down to.

So what affects the timing? Maybe it was circumstance. That could easily be true, and bad coincidences happen, without question. Only, when we were leaving the restaurant I had a strong urge to toss the keys to my dad and hop in my brother’s car to ride with him.

This was the strongest urge of several that came up through that afternoon, which had I followed would have kept me out of driving, kept me out of driving next to a Highway Patrolman, and likely would have saved me what will likely be a bit of a hefty fine.

What was that urge to hop in my brothers car, ostensibly to catch up with him more as we drove the twenty minutes to his house?

Why when I was thinking about it did sailing immediately come to mind, along with images of trimming the jib sheet in order to best harness the wind as it made subtle changes?

I have no idea if this is true or not, but I can’t help but think I did a poor job of sailing today. I wasn’t listening to the wind. I didn’t trust my instincts, instead fighting them because it was easier to go with what was happening.

I honestly think that if I were more attune spiritually I would not have gotten a ticket today. I didn’t listen.

A little thing like this really doesn’t matter in the long run. But, I get to wondering how if I’m not listening to the whispers of the wind in such a thing as this if I am missing the whispers in broader ways.

It is listening to these whispers, following the flow of the wind which takes a soul from being dead in the water to flying along at a healthy clip.

The Spirit is blowing. I need to continue to learn how to catch hold of that.

This was written June 19, 2006

A few years ago, Barclay Press invited me to do a two week daily journal for their website. They’ve since changed their online presence so those writings are gone. I was sorting out different files on my computer this evening and happened to run across them. So, I thought, I might as well repost them here. Both to have a record of them, and maybe more so, because these were written in 2006 and 2007. A fair bit of changes have happened in my life since then, so these are records of a time in my life when all I had was faith. I was writing a lot during these journaling times, and it’s curious what came out when I sat down to write. So, mostly for me, but also for anyone whose interested, I’m going to post one of these a day for the next 20 days or so.

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