Small Lessons From Small Lake Sailing

I have a small sailboat. It’s a sunfish; the model I learned to sail as a kid in coastal South Carolina.

Small sailboats are really fun to sail because they are so responsive. Any little whiff of wind will get them moving and tiny tweaks in handling can add up to major direction changes.

This makes sailing a blast because you get immediate feedback, which really helps you learn fast.

Sailing on small lakes like the ones near my mountain home multiplies this challenge by 10x. When they get wind it’s often sporadic and it comes from every direction.

Normally an inconsistent wind would be a negative, and believe me, it often frustrates the hell out of me to be constantly wondering where the wind is coming from. But in the end, this ambiguity is an advantage. Especially if you like learning because changing wind makes you constantly think and react.

A steady wind on a large body of water is amazing. You can focus on trimming your boat, heading to your chosen path and you can relax.

But I don’t sail to relax. I sail because it’s fun to think and react and tweak.

What’s normally viewed as a negative (shifting winds while sailing) can be a positive (constant monitoring of wind direction and speed helps you learn faster and can be more interesting.)

For example, in the “write and publish every day” challenge I’m currently engaged in, I’m not sailing in a steady wind. My inspiration is ambiguous. Ideas are not steady. My confidence in the outcomes is meager.

As I write, I’m constantly checking the main to see how the sail luffs and I adjust. I’m tweaking and adjusting constantly. My form stinks and I’m not winning any races.

But if you are having fun in this life and you can accept the ambiguity of new challenges, you’ve beaten the odds of most people.

So have fun. Don’t worry so much about the outcomes, and trim in that main.

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