Just over two weeks since we left Seattle and we are now somewhere off Mexico’s long coast line and from the ships log I am reminded today is the 16 May. Glimpses of coastal mountains by day and the loom of lights at night, we have consistent downwind sailing conditions which are now predominantly light and fluky. So gloriously beautiful hot days frustrated by what makes for tough racing conditions.
Ocean sailing really does make a nonsense of time in a conventional sense. At a first level its either dark or light and we are either on or off watch – but with 3 x 4 hour and 2 x 6 hour watches – and our longest sleep time during daylight, time itself seems rather curiously meaningless. There is perhaps just a simple binary sense of time… that in this moment of now there is one moment that is gone in the next? On the last race one of the crew set her body clock by associating porridge with breakfast – although when the porridge ran out this reference point disappeared. Another crew observed the irony of choosing a sport that gives you 5 ‘morning’ times in 24 hours. (Just to get enough rest it’s important to take a short or as long a nap as possible in each off watch.)
Racing adds another dimension when conditions are such that the off watch potential for rest gets gobbled up by sail changes and/or repair work.
Cumulative disorientation can create its own pressure and stressors as perspectives get lost. With a little thought or a pause for reflection there are numerous opportunities for learning and development. What are the little things that challenge us, cause distress and are blown out of proportion and equally those that lift the mood and punctuate our peculiar reality of routines and rituals with joy?
I rediscovered a grumpy part of myself several days ago and reminded myself of the question …’what do you do when you can’t get what you want’. I reflected …what would the wiser ego counsel? This thinking process didn’t take me very far and it wasn’t until I sat more deeply with the feeling and its own emotional rawness of unacknowledged needs and wants that I felt a deeper compassion for myself and others who fall into this grumpy persona to a greater or lesser extent – from time to time. Later the immeasurable quality of equanimity washed through my awareness, my perspective shifted more profoundly and I found a sense of greater ease.
Uplifting moments of joy are more obvious and numerous. This race has already brought us an exquisite multitude of wildlife: juvenile boobies resting on our bowsprit; whales swimming incredibly close by; so many dolphins leaping some 250m off our beam with the sea spray glistening in the dying sunshine; tiny specks of blue possibly jelly fish creatures catching the morning light, swirling in the deeper ocean blue; and sunsets, sunrises, the Milky Way, our favourite constellations and countless stars. How blessed we are. Whilst with and amongst the crew a smile, recognition, appreciation, humour, kindness – all heal and restore – and remind me of three other immeasurables – love, joy and compassion