After a brief few weeks in England I am heading off on 20 April to Seattle to rejoin the team for Leg 7. Our race starts on 29th, first stop just north west of the Panama Canal, then through the canal to start our race up to New York. I am enjoying feeling excited and happy.
Recently I have reminded myself several times of a diary entry I made whilst sweltering in the sticky heat of our Leg 5 equator crossing. “I will never again complain when it is cold, wet and grey.” Walking around in the city glancing wistfully at the grey skies and the magnificence of St Paul’s cathedral and surrounding gardens I am conscious that we are blessed indeed by all that is beautiful right here right now.
In myself I remain quite spaced out, disoriented and still digesting my incredible adventures so far. As my feet have hardly touched the ground, re-acclimatising to a watch system and life on the ocean should not be that tricky!
To recap on the study I am doing to explore the impact of extraordinary challenge. I am assessing how our perspectives shift – in the face of the multitude of challenges. This commits me and my fellow participants to asking ourselves many questions… what are we learning, how are we growing, developing … what are we noticing about ourselves and others? What’s shifting for us and in the team?
So far – and it is very early days yet… I feel a renewed and deep appreciation for life, living and all that being human is. I may be slightly disorienting but my eyes feel wider open – less filtered and less filtering – sensory receptors more finely tuned, seeing afresh, newly. I am not sure whether I feel more alive or am meeting life anew, refreshed.
I hugely enjoyed being at sea. Racing down wind and helming in some glorious conditions was wonderfully exhilarating. I have also had to dig deep and take a look at the reality of my anxiety and vulnerabilities – very real and yet not real. Certainly as ever the reality was not as tough as what was feared. I have made some well-trodden mistakes…over thinking, not caring for myself enough. How tough it is to break habitual responses particularly when the environment is unfamiliar and threatening. It takes great courage to make new mistakes and for sure I exposed how much work I have to – further development I have yet to embrace and address for myself.
Courage comes in so many different shapes and forms. Not always mighty, majestic and obvious.
From a team point of view we are an incredibly diverse bunch who are absolutely interdependent and yet in the moment our behaviours are sometimes at completely odds with this. Nevertheless the depth of friendships made and the camaraderie that emerges is also intensified and can carry you through the dark night.
On a 70 foot racing boat which is primitive, with the barest minimum of creature comforts, in an unpredictable external environment, contrasting and sometimes extreme conditions there are many stressors. It can be like a tinder box. Little things can be blown way out of proportion – we can all over react or withdraw. Retaining any sort of dispassionate, non judgemental observation and keeping a balanced pragmatic approach is a rare gift. Having a clear focus, finding some humour, keeping a sense of perspective and having a clear structure to what we are doing makes a massive difference.
Some have observed and behave as if hard work is the only currency…and yet we all contribute in different ways… and the value of kindness and gratitude is immeasurable.
For those that are interested in the objective and intentions of my study let me know or you could check out the brief outline on my fundraising page: https://gogetfunding.com/susan-robins-clipper/
Thank you again to all who are supporting me.
Let me have your feedback and comments or better still, ask me questions if you are curious! I ask and love being asked really challenging questions. Combining my passion for sailing with this study is part of my commitment to the principles of what is known as “action inquiry” – a continuing process of transformational learning and development…acting and enquiring.
So now it’s next stop Seattle to continue the “race of your life” … rejoining my hugely brave buddies, who have nearly completed their courageous racing across the mighty Pacific – an incredible journey with the most massive seas, extreme cold and the wildest of wind speeds. What stories they will have to share!