I believe that everything in life has an innate rhythm, nature being the most powerful example of this beautiful fact. I find that the older I get, and the more I listen to my own natural rhythm, the more smoothly things move in my life. When I think about my sailing path and all of the practice and learning that I am doing (and still need to do), I am reminded again of how important honoring my own pace and rhythm is. This is not to say that I wont push myself or do things to stretch my comfort zone, but it is to say that I need to consistently remind myself to slow down and listen to what is right for me in any given moment. I treasure the advice of my mentors and teachers, but in the end if I am not true to myself and my innate flow, my practice will be less effective. If I push too hard beyond this natural flow, in order to prove something or appease another, it never feels right. After a lifetime of valuing others’ opinions and ideas more than my own, I now know how important it is to trust myself in this way so that all may unfold as it is meant to.
Right now what is resonating with me is methodically ramping up to the longer sails I need to do to prepare myself for my big crossing. In order to do this, I have been sailing almost every day since my boat has been back in action. They have been day sails, some long and some short. Some might say I am not doing enough, but I have needed these sails to re-build my confidence and familiarity with my boat and her ways. After 3 months of not being able to use my boat, plus many changes to her layout and systems, there is a new (and bigger) learning curve. I feel the need to respect that curve and take the time I need to build my chops back up. My actions and procedures need to feel solid in the most basic of situations, before I head out into a situation I have never faced before. There is so much to be said for muscle memory and repetition. My goal is always to build a solid foundation crafted out of repetition and practice, and then from there to expand into more complicated and taxing situations.
In reflecting upon this, I realize that this concept is deeply ingrained in me from all of my years of martial arts training (thank you Soo Bahk Do). The foundation, and the basics are always the most important part of our practice. Even in the most advanced black belt class, we practice our basics repeatedly. Through doing this religiously for many years, a very strong foundation was created that allows me to step back onto the mat to this day (even after 7 years of not training) and be able to move with confidence and grace. It is the most beautiful thing to experience. I feel that my sailing practice is the same. If I honor and bolster my foundation, the rest will come in its perfect time and manner. When I am ready to leap into the next big push, I will know, and will do so with a sense of confidence that only going back to basics can bring.
That being said, I am feeling that I am almost ready to do just that, which will be my 400 mile solo qualifying sail. Every moment on my boat in the past month (not to mention my entire life) has been preparing me. Through slowing down and rebuilding though, I have learned so much… from the deeper nuances of sail trim to more efficient ways of economizing my movements, to embracing the idea of moving slowly and methodically, rather than feeling a press to rush and muscle through things. It has been a very valuable time for me, and by holding my intentions at heart while going through the process, I feel I have come much farther than I would have had I been pushing past the quiet places and not allowing myself to feel and listen to the wisdom hidden therein.