Sailing and Life

I’ve discovered life has a way of guiding you in the direction you need to go. If you go the wrong way, take a detour, somehow you always get pulled back to the main road to try again.

This past summer, while driving a sailboat I quickly learned when the wind and the boat were aligned perfectly. The feeling was instantaneous. I could feel the wind hitting the sail in just the right spot and it took little effort to control the boat. While I still had to hang onto the wheel, it was easy and it was smooth. I still had to pay attention, but I wasn’t tense, or nervous or drained. Excuse the metaphor, but I was just “sailing along.”

The minute the wind changed, I felt it. I felt like I had to concentrate on controlling the boat and it was work to guide it where it needed to go. Not nearly as smooth or easy as it was when everything was aligned and heading in the right direction. Even during those “easy” times, I still had to pay attention. It may sound simple and direct but it’s easier said than done with a 42’ boat, even if you are in the middle of Lake Superior! I still had to pay attention, concentrate and guide the boat the direction it needed to go. It’s just a bigger scale than driving a car. At one point, the direction from Captain Mike was: “See those two islands there? Don’t hit anything then take a left.” Life is like that. At times we feel like we spend more time avoiding what we don’t want than being excited about going toward what we do want. That feeling of avoidance or feeling off is a sign we need to readjust our sails.

Sailing is just like really living life. We have to pay attention. We have to guide and be guided and we always have to keep adjusting our lives to find what really aligns us with what makes us happiest.  It is always changing because we are always changing. No two days, are ever exactly the same. It’s like good communication, the minute you exchange words or body language, the person you are communicating with is interpreting and responding to you and your actions. We are constantly adjusting and interpreting.

Just like each of us not only has to find our own happiness daily, none of us have the same desires or ultimate happiness. After my marathon last fall, I treated myself to a pedicure. I bought a Groupon (I have gotten some great deals, discovered some great businesses and pretty awesome people by using them).  The woman who gave me the pedicure was a young woman in her early 20’s. Kat’s pedicure was good, but her story was better. She shared with me how her mom wanted her to be a doctor or a lawyer. She stuck to her dream of wanting to help people feel good and help them feel beautiful. She LOVED rubbing my feet and legs and removing the marathon torture I had put them through. She took great care in making sure she was taking care of me. She loved her job and it showed. I thought it was awesome that she found her calling in life  early in life and was proud of it, even though it’s not considered a glamorous profession by many.

I’ve learned glamour, prestige and money mean nothing if we are not truly happy. How many of us have spent so much of our life searching for our ultimate happiness and are yet to find it? How many times do we catch ourselves saying I’ll be happy when I have this or if I can do that? Happiness is truly living in the moment you are in right now. Those moments may not always be perfect, but if you keep adjusting your sails, even just a little you discover that those material things hold less and less value. Real value and happiness are found when your life has value. Doing what you love that gives joy and happiness to others, like Kat, who gave me the pedicure.

Life is a state of flux. If you haven’t found your happiness  yet, it’s not too late. Readjust your sails and seek to find it!