It’s a noisy, busy, world filled with fast-paced events and ever more complicated people. Hustle is the name of the game and it brings us many modern advantages. I do appreciate most of those things but as sailor I am a bit of a Luddite.
I like simple craft with basic equipment. Pilotage and paper charts get me around quite well. My boat is not a car and when on the water I am on the loosest schedule possible. An engine helps me get away from the marina where in fact it is required by the wet slip agreement. The finest moment of many a day’s sailing comes when the engine is shut down and the straining sails take over, pulling with quiet strength. No drug can equal the pleasure of deeply sensed silence.
Water is a spiritual medium, just ask Lao-Tzu. Jesus walked on it and quelled it’s angry moments with a word. I have experienced no better example of ordinary magic than waking to a clear day with a building breeze after a night of swinging on a secure mooring. If I were to be so arrogant as to invent a spiritual practice it would be something like “The Way of Watercraft”. Meditative practice would involve marlinespike seamanship, the art of short-tacking and the sacrament of sailing off the hook.
Morning light trembles
In the mainsails curve,
Ready to sail away,
As my vessel strains against the anchor,
Wrestling it from the firm hold
Of creek-bottom clay.
Here is the time-tested struggle;
Departing from a place where serenity
Is a force that stops clocks in the
Headlong plunge toward the future.
Leaving this peaceful anchorage,
Where night birds screamed of love,
Breaking the watery stillness,
Where swans dropped by to share breakfast,
Requires a quiet exit.
No engine’s noise must be allowed
To break the spell of silence
Woven by the gift of tranquility
Generously bestowed on wayward travelers.
Shout no command but speak
In the low voice of worshipers.
Step lightly on the deck
Unfurling the sails slowly,
As if raising the flag
With dignity and respect
Forsake the ease of modern ways
Practicing the age old mariner’s art.
Creep silently down the aisle
Of nature’s silent cathedral
With the wake following behind
Murmuring it’s benediction.
Sailing off the hook is
The best way to start a new day,
Moving across broad waters
Where fortune rides on the swell
As time whispers in the rigging.