Self Control Freaks
If you have ever sailed a small dinghy in light air, you may have been tempted to let go of the tiller. Yes, release your hold on the steering mechanism in your hand. If you happened to let go so, you probably discovered some delightful things not only about your steering your boat but also yourself.
- You can steer your craft without holding on.
- You can steer other ways.
- You can relax more and enjoy rather than struggle against
- You can share a more enjoyable sailing experience
Of course, it you don't trust that letting go, you might simply hold on tighter and miss the true meaning and messages of steering. But you learn only a small part of control by holding on. You actually lean much more by letting go...completely! I learned in a sailing class as a youngster how to steer by shifting your weight while trimming your sails. If you developed this skill, you may also have uncovered something about yourself.
A sea skipper (also called a captain or a master or a shipmaster) is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of the vessel. The captain is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation, crew management and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws, as well as company and flag state policies. All persons on board, including officers and crew, other shipboard staff members, passengers, guests and pilots, are under the captain's authority and are his ultimate responsibility. ~ Wikipedia
Their words spun like a cyclone,
Howling through the dark of night,
If you gave up all your light,
But block your ears my darling,
You are not a brittle stone,
This storm cannot erode you,
For you're more than blood and bone,
You're deeper than the ocean,
Both unstoppable and free,
And nothing can control,
The wild intentions of the sea,
So when they try to shape you,
Slip like water from their palms,
For wind should know it's reckless,
To disturb the oceans calm,
You have the right to be here,
Every right to what you feel,
And the wind can howl forever,
But the ocean will not kneel,
So do not let them change you,
Send your waves out far and wide,
And let them learn the hard way,
That you can't command the tide.
When I attended sailing class in my youth, one or two calm days each summer the instructors would unexpectedly announce "remove your rudder". Like a sudden wild fire, the abject fright of sailing rudderless swept over the multitude of 10-14 year-olds. It felt like we were hearing a joke at first. Then it freaked some others out to the point they refused to cooperate with exclamations like...
"How is this possible? How can we steer?
We'll surely sail in circles, hit docks or pilings worst of all, crash into each other and damage our precious wooden boats."
Of course, those who had never before attempted it, felt like their tiller was the most important control feature on their boats. They had yet to understand they were the one steering, not the tiller. They had to learn to let go of that steering mechanism to discover it wasn't the what they thought it was.
After one of the instructors awed us with her demonstration of "letting go" of the tiller, she then completely removed the tiller from her boat and steered just as well as if it were still in her hand. Soon afterwards she gave us all our opportunity. Some of us had not believed our eyes and still grasped the tiller immediately; others not so fast. We had to unlearn some conditioning, but we were young so it was easier then than later.
Little did we know that we had to grasp not grasping.
With something so new and seemingly risky, the learning or unlearning took time. Each of us had our own unique learning curve. We also all had to relearn the art of boat balancing at our own pace.
I eventually learned I could steer my center-boarded boat by moving my tush from port to starboard. I learned how if I shifted my weight to windward, my dinghy would begin to veer away from the wind. And vice versa - shifting to leeward would help me head up closer to the wind. And the more weight I shifted and the further I shifted it, the greater and faster the turn. Then we practiced with a crew member discovering two individuals took more timing and teamwork. The more I experimented with this, the more skillful I became. Those youthful days I learned a great deal about wind, sails, steering, weight, control ...sailing and life.
After I was introduced to the rudderless concept, I eagerly awaited this challenge each summer. I wouldn't wait. I would practice whenever I could. I loved sailing away from the docks without a hand on my tiller. I loved rounding a mark simply be shifting my wait and adjusting the mainsheet. I not only became comfortable sailing with my weight, but my wits as well. In fact, when the sailing class began racing rudderless, I couldn't wait to compete. The more comfortable I became, the more my racing results improved. In retrospect, I can, without any hesitation, profess that skill, more than any other, became one of my greatest sailing, as well as, life lessons. I not only discovered very important insights controlling my boat's but also I began to understand more about balance, trust, confidence, patience, and self-control. Valuable to this very moment.
Let's be honest, most humans want control. Actually, to a degree control is a human construct. It certainly doesn't exist in nature. Most of us believe we need a modicum of self-control to meet our basic daily needs to survive. Ironically, many believe the more in control we are, the more peaceful and settled life will be. In reality, it is really the opposite that is true. The more we find our own balance, the less we control. The more we face our demons, the calmer we become. The more we "let go" of fears, expectations, resentments, pre-judgments, wounds, disappointments, the more comfort and peace we experience. Maybe our sailing will prove smoother, more effortless and more enjoyable. All obstacles will become opportunities.
Can this boat above have any more controls?
What would happen if these instruments were removed?
Could this young man sail this boat without those controls?