A GIFT FROM THE SEA
By Barb Hansen
Recently I was on the phone with a man and we were discussing plans for his family’s one-week yacht charter vacation. Every day was planned to the max.
I suggested he might not be able to keep such a schedule due to weather or other factors. But he told me he had been an officer in the U.S. Navy. He had everything planned down to a five-minute timetable.
It seems everybody wants to carry their busy lifestyles over into their vacation on the water. Hurry is their mantra, their default position. Hurry to the office, hurry to pick up the kids, rush home, eat dinner, homework, hurry.
Oh my. I’m not a paragon of the virtue of patience but one thing I think I have learned in 25 years in the yacht chartering business is that cruises can be ruined by schedules that are too ambitious.
Sometimes the weatherman has some timely advice. Winds are up. Waves are high. A storm is coming. Stay in port. That kind of advice always trumps a schedule.
But, even when safety is not a consideration, it’s good to remember that sometimes doing something is not as much fun as just doing nothing. Keeping to a schedule can lessen the fun and spontaneity of cruising. It can make the family-man-skipper the bad guy even though he wants everybody to have a great time.
Lately I have been reading an essay about A Gift from the Sea, a book written by Anne Morrow Lindberg, wife of the man who first flew solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
She wrote, “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”
Sometimes your gift from the sea is a placid cove with the perfect spot to anchor-up. There is room for just one boat. Yours. You “own” it. It’s wonderful. Herons, egrets and spoonbills are wading on that flat over there. A family of manatees comes over to investigate. Oh, look, there’s a pod of dolphins.
Sorry. Your schedule tells you to keep moving. Awwww, Dad, do we have to?
Patience doesn’t come easy for many of us. Through the ages men and women of wisdom have counseled patience. Patience is wisdom. Patience is virtuous. Okay. But still we’d rather check things off on our to-do lists. I know somebody who confessed to adding tasks to his to-do list so he could experience the pleasure of checking them off, too.
Patience is a good thing, we say. But we still prefer to rush through the day by repeating inner voice truisms that have no relationship to the task at hand. Time is of the essence. Get ‘er done. Do something.
Successful cruising is not like that.
Auguste Rodin, who sculpted “The Thinker,” said, “Patience is also a form of action.”
You could check it off.