Friday, April 23, 2010

Moitessier & Moi

Moitessier & Moi
This last week has been one of the most difficult times of my life. That sounds rather dramatic when really, I feel like I am not doing anything all day. Almost three weeks into this passage, I just could not deal with the fact that we had another week to go, perhaps longer. Beating into the wind for almost a week now, the intense heat and humidity paralyzed me. The constant heeling, pounding, jerking, bucking, and lurching motions made me think, 'this is simply inhabitable'. I would dread having to go on deck and getting tossed around and sprayed in salt water. I have managed to cook, clean, and function so far on most passages, but after spending almost an hour just on doing some dishes, I was ready to lose it. I braced myself with my four limbs, stomach, knees, elbows, and whichever else body part allowed to keep myself stable while making sure no knifes or forks makes a sudden move to turn into weapons. When something would go wrong, like a spill in the galley, after I'd exhausted my sigh of deaths, I'd break into tears. If you had me next to my three-year-old niece, I would not have looked any different than when she throws a temper tantrum. It's actually worse than that because mine is like the pathetic whimper, the kind that makes you think, gees, you really don't need to be crying. I'm actually quite disappointed with myself at how whiny I can be. Anyway, to make my point, I was hating life.

Yesterday, I picked up one of Moitessier's books. I don't know why... perhaps for inspiration. His writing is beautiful and his life legendary (well, maybe except for the fact that he ditched his wife and kids). He writes, "I've always had the feeling that for me, long passages deeply cleanse me of all the grime accumulated during a stay ashore. Once the coast disappears astern, a man alone before his creator can't remain apart from the natural forces around him. His body and mind, freed from earthly bondage and attachments, can find their essence and purity in the heart of those elements in nature that the ancients made into gods. Wind, Sun, and Sea, the sailor's divine Trinity." This is a man who uses expressions such as "making love to the lagoon that has seduced me" and "being at one with my boat". Without a boat, he feels "like a hermit crab without a shell". In my moments of despair and pathetic whimpers, the contrast seemed black and white clear to me. Let's face it, I'm no sailor. I'm not Moitessier and I'm no Lin Pardey, either. I'm just barely hanging on here. But it was also so refreshing to hear of pure joy, strong attraction, and passion. The last time I felt that kind of pure bliss was my climbing days - my early climbing days in Korea. So it must be that sailing is the medium through which Moitessier loved life. And for me, it was climbing.

With that difference put aside, Moitessier had something else to teach me. When talking about coping with hardships, he said, "I try never to look too far ahead. I heave to emotionally. It's a trick I learned from reading Monfreid. When everything is going wrong, you stop thinking, you just act on instinct, you just do what has to be done every day. And little by little, things become clear."

It is true that I tend to look ahead too far and overanalyze. Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all, live in the present moment and keep it simple. Maybe I had to reach rock bottom to come back up or maybe I was looking forward to the upcoming landfall, it does not matter. I tuned into a different frequency in my head and that's all it took. So what if it takes eleven more days to get there? Just do what has to be done every day. So today, I did.

I kept it simple. Monitor weather. Trim the sails and/or change as needed. Ah, stop bitching now. I hand-pumped the manual watermaker so that we can have freshwater to clean ourselves. I made an effort to eat something decent. After a while, the desire to live and feel alive kept growing and I felt more motivated. Just do what has to be done every day. That is how I coped.

1 comment:

  1. Our boat is torn up right now while working on it and I made that very sound this morning when I couldn't find my *jacket*. How ridiculous, huh? And I'm still at the DOCK.