June 28, 2015

He who meditates is lost

ONE OF THE PEOPLE out sailing on the Salish Sea right now says he’s trying to decide how much he likes boating. He told a friend of mine that he has never done anything that can take you so fast from pleasure to terror.

My friend understood what he meant. She told him she once had an experience with a kayak that got her dumped in the drink unexpectedly. “I told him it was much like going from a feeling of confidence to incompetence in nanoseconds,” she said.

What’s wrong with these people? They’re the victims of pernicious psychobabble, specifically the oft-repeated injunction to “live in the moment.”

It took me a long time to figure out what living in the moment actually meant. I was not really sure whether I lived in the moment or not. I didn’t know what living in the moment felt like, compared with living outside the moment, either in front of the moment or behind it.

But it occurred to me eventually (I’m a slow thinker) that it was largely bound up with meditation, and that explained to me why people who are not natural sailors can go from happiness to terror in the blink of an eyelid; because, if you are a real sailor, you never live in the moment. You live in the future. And he who meditates is lost.

A real sailor is aware all the time of what could happen next. He or she stays ahead of current conditions and wonders what might happen if this or that occurred. A real sailor who sees a dark cloud on the horizon doesn’t take a deep breath of satisfaction and  think how beautifully it contrasts with the fluffy white clouds overhead. A real sailor imagines what could happen if that cloud is hiding a white squall. What would be the best way to handle the downburst gusts?  Would it be better to double-reef the mainsail right now? Roll the jib, maybe? Are the reef pennants in place? Can someone else steer while you do the reefing?  Are the jib furling lines free and ready to operate? What else might happen?

All the time he or she is afloat, the real sailor is thinking ahead, not living in the moment. There is never a time when you are under way when you can afford not to be living in the future. You must give full rein to your imagination.  That’s why, when the future arrives, you are neither surprised nor terrorized. You are prepared and confident.

On the other hand, those whose heads are idling in neutral, awash with the pleasures of the moment, will certainly experience fear and uncertainty when their surroundings suddenly change into the inevitable fury of the future.

Many of you will recognize this theory as an extension of my own Black Box Theory (quod vide), which, succinctly stated, says “the more I practice the luckier I get,” and explains why some boats survive storms and groundings when others don’t. Take no notice of those meddling non-thinkers who keep urging us all to live in the moment. If you’re a sailor, live in the future, and you’ll probably live longer.

Today’s Thought
The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. — Thomas S. Monson

“How about a kiss, gorgeous?”
“Certainly not, I’ve got scruples.”
“No problem, babe, I’ve been vaccinated.”

(Drop by every Monday, Wednesday, Friday for a new Mainly about Boats column.)


Old Sailor said...

Ahh, now that's a great observation, and very true. It's why I like sailing so much--being constantly aware and alert to my surroundings despite the fact that no one else appears to take much notice!

TC and Kelly said...

I'm sending this to my friends!