Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Agile as Cats

Something I have noticed in comparing my life on land to my new life on the water, as well as the observations I've made of others, has to do with degrees of awareness and levels of stress. In my land life, when stress climbed higher, my level of awareness often waned. As somebody striving to be health conscious and as somebody in the Work, I make efforts to lower stress and raise awareness. I was often caught in my worries about bills or romance dramas or... you name it.

Now I am noticing that life on a boat facilitates the lowering of stress and fosters greater awareness naturally. On the water one has to be vigilant even in calm times; there are so many things that can hurt you, so many things that can go wrong in the blink of an eye, something new to learn every day and so much breathtaking beauty to behold, that one's awareness becomes keener by the day. You can see this awareness in the movements of sailors. Sure, they may be hunched up from lack of headroom, or swagger from the habitual adjustments to the motion of a rolling deck, but they never waste a movement or expend more energy than needed. In other words, they are aware of themselves and their surroundings. And good sailors never hurry, they know they have time.

Sailing seems to melt stress away. Stress arises from focusing on what might happen. When one is fully engaged in what is happening there is little space in consciousness for projection into the uncertain future. I think this is why sailors often have a aura of health about them and even the old salts who sometimes drink way too much, seem to be sharp as tacks and agile as cats.

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