I learned some valuable sailing lessons on the Delta in the late ‘70s, just as I had as a boy in Maine’s Penobscot Bay and along the New England Coast, and would later in the San Francisco Bay. Some of the most indelible came in the 40 days or so I spent alone sailing to Hawaii and back, which I did twice (except for the one leg that included my eldest daughter, Emily, then 13, who was born in Stockton. She has since credited some of her considerable business success with what she learned sailing – particularly when we were 1,000 miles from land in any direction and I was asleep, and she had reason to feel more deeply the meaning of “alone” than she had quite seen coming.)
Some of these lessons came to mind in recent weeks as the Age of Coronavirus dawned. I have expressed these in various combinations at various times, and they all apply when the going gets rough:
– Bring the horizon in close and focus on doing the right next thing right.
– If you wonder if it’s time to reef, it’s time to reef.
– Make a schedule for eating, sleeping, self-care, and stick to it despite the weather, if you possibly can. You have to take care of you to be able to take care of the boat.
– Don’t underestimate the small pleasures to fend off slipping into dark thoughts.
– Be your own best friend – ignore any voice in your head that makes things harder.
– The best people and ideas you ever knew are with you if you let them in. Draw on them.
– The weather always changes.
Eric Best is an independent strategy consultant (www.ericbestonline.com) and the author of “Into My Father’s Wake,” about solo sailing Feo to Hawaii and back and growing up in New England, available on Amazon. He worked for the Stockton Record as a reporter, editorial page editor and city editor from 1975-1983.
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