I’ve been sailing many times. No, that’s not true: I’ve been sailed — passive voice — many times. I suspect I’m the kind of person for whom the term “deck fluff” was coined. I can tell you all about the iguanas and gas powered blenders on tiny islands in the Bahamas. I can’t tell you much about lines or cleats.
But all of that is about to change. Now that I have moved to a lakeside town, I have decided to learn how to sail with my fiancé. Our first class was last week.
I thought we’d start out by learning sailing terminology on terra firma and perhaps graduate to getting into a dinghy in week two or three. Nope. The first thing we learned was how to reverse a 25-foot sailboat, take it out in the harbor, spin it, and then take it back to the marina and park it in a teeny tiny slip.
As I took the tiller to park, I thought I’d have all of the success of Cinderella’s ugly stepsister, trying to jam her great big foot into that little wisp of a shoe, but I managed to park the boat just fine. Old dog, meet new trick!
Then we tried our hand at knot tying. It took me 40 years to figure out how to tie a scarf around my neck in a way that makes me look remotely French, and yet in a twenty minute lesson I learned how to tie four types of knots.
I remember in early adulthood how painful it was to learn a new sport–I’m looking at you, golf–but now, in later adulthood, it’s so much easier. Perhaps I’m smarter… doubt it, or more relaxed… not a chance. Likely, I simply care less what other people think, which frees me to make mistakes and learn. Also, I’m more ready to push the limits than I’ve been in the past. I’m at the age where friends are receiving scary diagnoses and people my age have died. It provides a good incentive to break through my fear of failure.
On our next lesson, we are going to race our boat. In a race. On race night. It sounds fun. Also, terrifying.
I’m mindful of my fiancé’s 97-year-old grandmother, who regularly posts photos on social media where she is riding on motorbikes and in powerboats with her white hair blowing wildly and a big smile on her face. I get it.
There comes a point where you realize life offers no guarantees anymore and you only have so much time to do what you need to do.
I’m finally throwing caution to the wind and raising the sails. Life is too short for me to be content as a passenger any longer.