Monday, February 18, 2008

Sailing sideways

I was sailing off St. Simon's Island last week on a beautiful Friday afternoon. The wind was light and there were still about three hours before the tide turned as I headed the boat toward the marina.

When I looked at the back of the boat, the water rushing from beneath the hull left quite a wake. The sails were trimmed so that they were maximizing the power from the wind. I could feel the breeze across my face as I looked over toward the lighthouse. After some minutes, I realized that I had not moved in relationship to the lighthouse. The water still raced by. The wind was still blowing. Through the water, it seemed as if I was making 3 knots. But, in relationship to the island, I was not moving.

It did not take me long to realize that the force from the wind propelling me forward was in almost perfect balance with the force of the tide pushing me backward. In fact, my GPS device calculated that my net progress was .5 knots... sideways. That is a little bit less than a foot per second.

It became something of a game: read the wind, trim the sail, shift the tiller and maintain almost perfect balance. In fact, I played the game for about 20 minutes. And found myself about a quarter mile closer to shore than when I started. Had I played long enough, it is possible that I would have run aground. So, I gave in, fired up the Nissan and motored across the current toward home.

Compromise can be like that. You can think you have the forces of two opposing values in balance, when in reality, you're sailing sideways. If you do not have a full range of references, you will not be able to accurately assess your location. And if you do that long enough, you'll be aground.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Dense Fog

When I launched my browser a few minutes ago, a little window appeared with a "severe weather warning." When I clicked it, I was informed that there is a "dense fog advisory." Well, duh, I thought. I just drove through it.

It was thick this morning. It is something to be dealt with in Coastal Georgia. Many mornings the fog is so heavy, sight is obscured beyond 50 or 100 feet.

Such fog calls for a different set of driving skills. I find myself more alert to lights, the reflectors in the middle of the road and the white lines on the edge. I slow down and pay much attention to giving more room to others.

On several occasions last week, I heard references to wilderness experiences. The speakers were referring to the times in our lives where nothing seems to work out the way we plan, we are confronted with feelings of isolation and loneliness and there is the sense that we are lost and without direction.

The wilderness is like the fog. It calls for a different set of driving skills. Paying more attention to the things right around us. Slowing down. Building more "white space" into our lives. Be patient. Don't rush the experience. It may take a while, but eventually, the fog will lift (my weather applet says by 10am) and the wilderness will end.

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