Perseverance

Drafted a few months ago, I’ve scheduled this post to be published while hundreds of miles offshore from our destination - the eastern Caribbean island of Antigua. Stay warm folks! Hoping you enjoy this little anecdote.

Many readers are familiar with the saying, “Sailing is a metaphor for life”.

A long time ago… In a place not too far away… on a cool autumn afternoon, I was rowing my softening sophomore body to nowhere on an indoor rower. It was our first week back to school after a long summer of teaching beginners to sail (coincidentally at the same waterside location). By the end of summer I was grossly out of shape, at least for the grueling activity level of competitive rowing, and so pushing my body fairly hard. Nearing the end of a 20-minute grueling workout at full-throttle, I was giving it all I could. Or so I thought.

What does this have to do with sailing? We’ll get there.

Back to the boathouse… I grunted upon seeing the final few meters count down on the rower, and took my foot completely off the proverbial gas pedal and coasted in for the last few seconds. I silently told myself it was “good enough” slowly recovering as my drenched body slumped forward. The whirring resistance fan-wheel spun to a standstill, eventually leaving all quiet except for my slow panting.

I didn’t realize it, but our new rowing coach had been watching from behind, just beyond my view. He wasted no time to verbalize his disappointment, letting loose a (could interpret as being explicit) strike of serious admonition at my pathetic lack of effort.

“Why didn’t you keep pulling to the end!? You were almost there! Just a few more meters! You could have done better if you didn’t give up so early!”

Ouch. For the initial few minutes I felt mildly offended, especially while gulping water, gasping and trying to recover. I proverbially brushed off his chiding, wiped sweat from my eyes and shrugged my shoulders, not saying anything. There was no denying it, I could have done better for a few seconds longer, which can make all the difference in outcome.

His words have – his message has solidified within me for more than 35 years, and actually made a different person out of me. Not only then, but they’re still going, and likely will never stop. He was right, and I deserved the constructive feedback.


Now the opening paragraph-reference part. Call it a cruising or sailing metaphor if you will. Sailing is what you make of it. Sometimes it’s really really rough out there – not just on a boat offshore, but hitting those potholes in life. (We could be rocking in a gale as you read this!) You must accept and work hard through the broken hardware, lulls and gusts, adverse currents and rolling swells as they come. Usually, you can control your arrival time to some degree if patient and you persevere. The key is patience and hard work. For some not too closely familiar with who Kelly and I are, to first hear that we’ve quit our jobs, sold our house and gave away most possessions, see our actions as a sure sign of either lunacy or result of personal trauma. To those who know us well, it’s just the way we do things: we give it our all, never take a foot off the proverbial accelerator, don’t accept excuses and do stuff for a reason, and it the best we can. And for the last several years, “it” is to explore the world in a most intensive way, a way to give us the most out of our efforts. We’re not crazy – we’re determined. It’s never any sacrifice – it’s what we really want!

Slow and steady wins the race!

Cecil Turtle

So, sometimes our strongest efforts may not please others. But just in case you still don’t get it, my coach has become a life-long friend, and has made clear the message to pick something to be passionate about, don’t complain and take it to the absolute best you can. You don’t want him sneaking up and breathing down your back telling you that you could have done it better.

My rowing status earlier this year. Note the absences when cruising.

During our recent winter sabbatical from cruising I regularly rowed on my own indoor rower, attempting to stay in good shape, mostly so my aging bones and muscles remain capable of handling Fayaway in all conditions. And you can be assured that when I set the time or distance on the little computer, I never slack-off near the end!

One thought on “Perseverance

  1. Hamid

    Chris,
    This is beautiful and inspiring!

    You will not believe it that I was alerted to the email ding, just when I thought I had hit the bottom. I can do more!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Hamid

    Now I know – no, I can do mor

    Liked by 1 person

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