A Tribute to Sailing: Alberta's LakeS ...
Sailing, Sustainability, and Freedom
Magic just happens the moment you inch the tiller and usher the bow slightly off the headwind. The feeling is very much a kin to pulling the perfect string and striking the sweetest note to freedom.
The mainsheet will tug between your hands as the sails fill up, and the boat would start to heel putting one’s heart a bit closer to that charmed line between the water and the air.
Underway, the center board right under your feet would be cutting through water columns as if a knife slicing through vanilla custard jelly. This feels so good that at some point, you would have to ask yourself, “Do I even deserve this?”
Sailing, as physically demanding and dramatic as it can be, is in fact a practice of subtlest awareness and feeling, and of constant optimization. As everything around changes and fluctuates, as the boat heels, as the wind catches, and as the water flows underneath, one commits to movement and continually negotiates a passage using ropes and sheets.
Subtle awareness in sailing, as in anything in life, requires no less than ample engagement. A sailor cares to listen to the softest of winds around, to observe the waves near and far, and to tune into the movement of people and of time.
Thus, sailing easily fills up the senses, that in moments of full commitment you can forget the separation of your body from the wind, the water, and everything else that flows; because you, yourself are flowing. The American Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihaly, aptly calls this state of heightened focus and immersions in activities such as art, play, and work, as “f l o w” --- the secret to happiness”.
Apart from the neurological sense of happiness, sailing also reinforces the value of sustainability. Countless decisions are made, as one navigates the ever changing winds and the waves in the waters: there is neither room for excess nor scarcity. When one is truly in synched with all that is around, what else is there to be wanted or to be given up? When sailing, I believe we are bit closer to liberation.
The Albertan prairie lakes and reservoirs provide a great country to sail. The winds can range from micro-puffs to horrific squalls (sometimes in 10 minutes!).
In this time of transition towards a more ecological economy in Alberta and around the world, sailing provides the perfect metaphor for leadership. Because 1) we are all in this boat together, 2) the winds and the tides are changing and “getting ripe for the picking” and 3) it takes some effort and preparation, but here is a ride that we and the rest of the world cannot afford to miss.
In Alberta, and in most of the world recently, it has become too easy to just push the gas pedal to move around in this planet and in this life. However, if align and find ourselves within the ceaseless flow around us, life is glorious.