We left London on September 1st, a little over one month ago, and its time to draw some conclusions.
The start of the race to Portugal was a wake-up call for most. After having left in beautiful weather and still feeling vulnerable having said goodbye to our loved ones, we were soon hit by pretty stormy weather beating up the English channel and the Biscaya. Heeling over and therfor living at an angle at all times took some getting used to and considerably made life onboard challenging right away. It even ended with some bruised ribs for some. One crew fell out of her bunk and one hit his nose in the galley pretty badly. We quickly had to learn to organize ourselves as it became a big nuisance having to look for our things in such circumstances. So at the start, it was all about getting “sea legs” and not stumbling around like a toddler.
Heeling at this angle also meant that we had no water in the heads or for washing dishes as the pumps didn’t reach the water to be pumped up.
But after 3 days it was over and we quickly ticked the old problems off our list and started to takle a new one: spinnaker work; how to handle it, how to pack it. That became the main concern.
I want to share what has been on my mind the last couple of weeks and what this blog entry will be about:
How come some crew seems to be better at coping with this new way of life than others?
But last night I got some insight as I had an interesting talk at the helm with a crewmate. It appears clearer – it seems to be around some distinct aspects:
1. your scope of experience and your lifestyle
…not necessarily in sailing but in life. Have you traveled? Are you used to beeing in extremely unfamiliar or even unpleasant surroundings? Like extremely cold or hot weather, physically as well as mentally challenging situations…
2. your outlook on life
…is the glass half-full or half-empty? Do you keep a sense of optimism, believing that things will turn out ok? Believing that even in failure there is learning?
Or are you someone with a more pessimistic outlook on life, shielding yourself with a certain skepticism?
3. your willingness to contribute to the we-ness of the team
…taking care of yourself is an important task, and also a sense of what others need and how you can make their lives easier and more pleasant. Contributing your necessary share to the overall.
4. your aptitude not to take yourself too seriously
…being able to look at yourself and your shortcomings with a sense of humor and love
5. you ability to accept
…a lot of times acceptance seems to be the better way of handling a situation as a lot of times the circumstances are out of your circle of influence. In our case that might be the weather or when we get up, what time we take a rest or do our chores. Even when what I eat is all planned and decided for me. Everybody follows a schedule in order to have everything run smoothly in such a tiny space.
What I can influence is how I show up, how I accept what is…. is.
Dwelling in endless loops of repetition telling yourself that it is hot or comparing your situation with what you are used to at home, having to wool and pack the spinnaker – again!
Those who cope better seem to direct their energy into something else. Like practice self-care; sleeping enough, eating, staying hydrated (which turned out to be a major task) and keeping a sense of humor.
So, in conclusion, what helps us to accept?
Here are some of my thoughts on it:
Knowing that we do have to cope at some point anyway.
…like I mentioned before there often isn’t a possibility to change the situation. You have to surrender to the circumstances. Instead, focus on what you can influence. Which might be your mindset, or for a more specific example in our case, little traditions of self-care.
Starting a dialog with those who do cope better than us and ask them about their strategies.
Struggling to cope is, in the end, a very relatable feeling. Accepting and acknowledging our emotions of disappointment, anger, frustration and even helplessness will help us move on from them.
Meditation can be an opportunity to give your mind a rest and take on another perspective on your situation. It can also give you a sense of privacy and intimacy with yourself by forcing yourself to pause and pull out of the material world.
I would like to simply sum this up with a quote.
Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life.
– Eckhard Tolle
Some mind food: