“Sailing Lessons”


This past week I had the pleasure of going sailing with my dear friend Michelle and members of her family.  We were aboard a beautiful sailboat belonging to Jeff, Michelle’s brother-in-law.  Throughout the day Jeff gave me sailing lessons.

I’m using the term loosely because my definition of a sailing lesson is me asking extremely simple questions and Jeff very patiently answering them.  He was so kind and encouraging as I asked and re-asked, “Now am I steering the jib and in that case are we jibing?” or  “When you asked me to pop up and loosen the rope to the jib, does that mean I popped up and jibed?”

I have sailed before but have never gone so far as to steer a rudder, or man the tiller, or whatever it was I was doing that Jeff told me I did so well…God bless him.  I’ve always just gone along for the ride, which is mostly what I did this time.  Of course there was the day my friend Eddie and I capsized his brother’s Sunfish on Owasco Lake and were rescued by some girls sunning on their beach.  Or the time I was sailing with a group of kids in high school and ended up in the middle of a regatta. But typically I have been a lazy, happy passenger on the high seas or, in most cases, Skaneateles Lake.

As I reflect on sailing with Michelle and her husband Beach, Jeff and Diane and their son Scott, what I mostly do is laugh.  In the picture above Michelle and I are laughing so hard that we are literally crying.  We were sailing though.  Moments of paying close attention were necessary.  

These moments of mindfulness were often accompanied by very funny vignettes.  For example, at one point we were eating fresh cherries that Diane had brought for us when it became necessary for some of us to actively sail.   Feeling all settled in and enjoying the fruit I asked, “Is it okay if we throw the pits and stems in the lake?” Diane said, “Mo, we have to be serious right now. We have to concentrate on sailing.”  I was able to stop myself and let her focus on her task.  But still I was laughing…hard… at my own ludicrousness. Diane laughed right along with me once she could shift her attention back to cherries and how to dispose of their refuse.

This ability to laugh through life is one that I am very grateful for.  There was a time when, if someone told me to ‘lighten up,’ I would find myself fighting a strong urge to choke them.  The hit song “Relax” by Frankie Goes to Hollywood in the mid 1980’s made me cringe.  While living in New York during this time I saw a guy with a shirt on that said, “Up Yours Frankie.”  I was on his side.

But these days I  just love knowing that life is laced with a myriad of elements that are very rarely without humor.  I love meandering through them.  I love having the ability to switch gears when I need to and then pick back up where whatever was happening left off.  I love not taking myself so seriously.

This is one of the many reasons I enjoy being with my dear friend Michelle and family, and other friends in my life who help to foster the easiness in me.  I love to be with people I can sail with.  You can’t beat it with a stick…er…jib…I mean…tiller?


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