It all started with a passenger telling me that golf was losing followers because it’s a boring and slow sport. Apparently biking, in particular mountain biking, is the new rage based on it’s speed and fast pace. I felt a little sad by this. As a society, when did we get too impatient with things?
This particular passenger was very high strung and just a few months ago would’ve driven me to fantasies of one of us going overboard. However, as of late I have been devoting most of my time to self-improvement and reflection and therefore took an interest in this passenger. A man who I’m sure irritates a lot of people and probably gets a lot of bad reactions. I’ve found a new soft spot for these sweetly grumpy lost souls, probably because I’ve gained more insight into myself.
Anyway, he talked of his business which involves golf and very rich people who don’t allow for errors. This in turn causes significant stress in his life. He asked about wifi and I saw the panic disappear in his eyes when I said no we didn’t have it, but I would happily let him use my data package as I would never use it all. His endless and repeated questions about timing, schedules, the weather the “norm” with sailing and all the possible safety aspects of the boat were calmly answered as many times as he needed to hear it. He was always a bit stumped when I said there was absolutely no norm with how the weather and timing was on the crossing. He was so involved in schedules this other way of life seemed like a different world. I hope his silence meant he was contemplating other perspectives on how to live.
He was scared. He felt safe enough to admit that so I’m not just making an analysis. He was scared of the movement and sound of the boat and of the vastness of the open sea. Hour by hour in the calm bits, he would become more brave and make longer appearances in the cockpit. Always with endless questions, but I smiled inside knowing that he was getting braver.
How does this relate to slowing down? Well, sometimes we are so afraid of what might happen (which is more than likely not going to happen), that we miss the unique blue of the open sea, the way the plankton lights up the sea at night or the kind smile from a stranger or friend. The modern day is too fast. Immediate results are the norm and when they don’t happen, frustration and impatience immediately appear. Remember the days of dial up Internet?? That’s not even accepted in “third world” countries these days (for “first worlders” anyway)!
When I travelled, my favourite thing to do was go to bus stations early and wait. People thought I was crazy. Sometimes I was there for four or five hours and you know what? It seemed like an hour at most. I had no schedule, no deadline, no one to answer to and no pressure, so why not? It was a beautiful way to observe what communities are like. It was also the time when I had the best conversations with locals. I didn’t read, I didn’t tap my foot and look at my watch, I just enjoyed the moment and it was always eye opening.
This is precisely one of the reasons why I love being at sea. There is no outside communication with anyone, there is no schedule to arrive because what’s the point? It would always be broken! I am at mercy to the waves, wind and sea. I am forced to slow down and enjoy the moment. Watching the movement of the waves, observing any birds that might be flying around, watching the flying fish, patiently waiting for the dolphins to arrive, observing the night sky, giving my full attention to the conversation I’m having or the book I’m reading. It’s truly a gift to be given so much time to be in the moment and not have any distraction to take me out of it.
As a result, I look healthier, younger and happier. I have patience for those who have yet to find this path of stillness in life, or who may never find it. I feel more at peace and I’m starting to forget what I call “pointless stress” feels like. The kind of stress that is brought about by pressure that we ourselves bring to this life because of technology and a fast paced way of life.
Slow down. Find your open sea. Maybe it’s in a forest, a desert, the jungle, country fields, a river or the look in your child’s eyes. Just find it and enjoy the moment. Then take that feeling and bring it to the rest of your life. When I’m at sea, I’m utterly and completely vulnerable. I have so little control. I am at mercy to the boat, the wind, the waves, the weather, debris in the water and big cargo ships. One little thing can go wrong and that’s it, life is over. I don’t let it scare me, I simply appreciate the value of my life on and off the sea, each moment, that much more. Maybe it makes me a “slow” person living on the outside of a fast paced life I no longer have a desire to live in. And never have I been more satisfied with life or more grateful to be alive.