Sunday, December 4, 2016

those moments

That first time in a Summer that you feel your naked toes on a bobbing deck in the warm sun is a recurring memorable moment over the years if you are lucky. We're fortunate to get the toes on the bobbing deck thing all through the year, but not the naked toes part. Thinking about that, and taking this picture of my blue/pink Winter Toes made me remember some thoughts I tried to express in one of the chapters of the book 'Something About Navigator'. It was the beginning of the chapter called 'Navigator Moments', which was primarily to introduce a small collection of Navigator stories and adventures by other owners/sailors/builders/writers. I hope you don't mind if I include a piece of the preamble (slightly edited) here:

'Sailing is such a compelling medium in the use of our bodies and our senses, for routines, skills and transport but also simply for finding some space. I really enjoy the sensory inputs of a nice trip on the water; the different sounds of water lapping or sloshing or frothing or breaking; or the push-pull simplicity of the balance between tiller and sheet- the hard and the soft, the easing or firming, the one hanging off the other with me flexing and contracting in between.

The lines have a beauty of their own too, whether braided or twisted, rough or silky and the organizing of them can be therapy for an everyday cluttered mind.

A gust rustles fabric and pulls at the boom, so the sound in your ears becomes the rise of your backside and the weight in your hand. These things go mostly unnoticed, but their interconnectedness makes them sensations as worthy as any, to be remembered as special, memorable, and maybe even defining.

And what can give these sensations an edge is the scale and power of the forces you play with, and the possibility of being caught by the very things that are so beautiful. The routines that are practiced make responding automatic, but in those moments when everything is in balance, or your mind is in a state of ‘flow’, process becomes timeless, the goal is just ‘now’ and nothing further, and expectations are forgotten. That is my sort of ‘moment’.

I find ‘flow’ in making things too, when a technique or a process is just beyond me, challenging or unfamiliar to me, but I proceed intuitively, letting hand and eye carry on without my supervision; without logic getting in the way. This idea seems strangely neutral, as though things happen automatically, and yet it involves a very strong feeling of being fully in the experience. Focussed and more than ordinarily aware.

I’m sure that some of us lose something very powerful by not learning to use our hands, although that feeling- of working slightly in new territory, is of course at the heart of any creative project and in the thrill of an expedition too. There is the excitement of exploring the known unknown, and the slight anxiety involved in planning for the unknown unknown.

For this to be a positive and comfortable experience, the anxiety needs to be matched by some confidence in our ability to adapt as the experience unfolds. Working even just a bit too far ahead of our past experience will be stressful. We can certainly learn from that, (some even thrive on that) but most, perhaps aim to avoid it.
All this without mentioning boat designs, location, companionship, weather, destination or refreshments! '

Howard Rice's current expedition project was another motivation for dragging out these thoughts, and I know that many of us- even the armchair explorers amongst us- are watching with great interest and support  in mind.

On the subject of 'moments', this little video is of a very special one I had a while ago, no wind, no shoes, waiting for a puff to arrive, but meanwhile just sitting with my feet dangling over Annie's bow enjoying the peace.                              

a brief encounter

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