Two decades ago, Paul and I had to return a borrowed Snipe to Mystic Lake, a hill-encircled body of water just west of Boston. The local fleet was racing that day, so—shrugging our shoulders into “why not?”—we decided to join them; might as well break up four hours of driving with a few hours of sailing. Though it wasn’t the open water ocean we both loved, it was still sailboat racing. We’d undoubtedly learn a few things, catch up with a few friends, and then head home.
By the end of that challenging day, the only thing I’d learned for sure was that divorce is NOT a four letter word.
We are still happily married, of course. But the crazy windshifts on that most mystical of lakes—so unpredictable, so random—left us both feeling battered and bitter and—stupid. Surrounded by high hills, the breeze would fill in or disappear, seemingly at random. Our combined sailing expertise (earned over two lifetimes on open water) no longer applied.
That same frustration has returned in 2020: something we can’t see or predict is requiring us to learn new habits on the fly. It’s as if life’s summer seabreeze suddenly decayed into a land-confused, puffy, shifty “mystical” wind, and we have no idea how long it will be before we can again trust our senses to figure out what “wins.”
Lake Sailing’s Life Lessons
Here are a few important lessons that are helping me weather this ongoing life-storm.
- “Keep your bow pointing toward the mark.” What really matters? For me it’s family, creativity, and time on the water. (This winter, that may be just paddling.)
- “Control what you can, and let go of what you can’t.” We can’t predict what the wind or the virus will do next, but we can take charge of our own reactions.
- “Make your own luck.” Focusing on the positive has helped me identify and pounce on new and totally unexpected opportunities.
- “Win the regatta, not the race.” Don’t get caught up in petty squabbles; try to be patient with each other, and take the long view.
Since that memorable day of unpredictable sailing, I’ve gone back to that crazy lake several times (including four days at the 2017 Snipe Nationals with supercrew Hillary Noble, shown in the photo above). I haven’t exactly mastered that type of racing, but lessons learned on that cussed lake are now helping me weather 2020’s daily barrage of unexpected windshifts. And until we can travel and socialize and sail normally again, I wish the same for you and yours.
Got a secret to getting through these strange times? Share it in the comments below, or send me an email. Meanwhile thanks for reading, and stay safe.