Friday, May 30, 2014
That clever fellow Nick Hayes, author of Saving Sailing, has an article in the June 2014 issue of SpinSheet magazine titled Don't Sell Your Boat, Mister. In it he challenges a man who is trying to sell his Laser because he thinks has no time to get out on the water even though "the desire is there." Nick goes a bit deeper than the usual "live in the moment" memes with some insights from a Harvard social psychologist and some excellent advice on how to organize your life to be happy now, not at some vaguely imagined future idyllic time. He outlines a way to live such that "hours magically appear for things that bring happiness - like Laser sailing on a Tuesday night."
One of his arguments for creating time to follow your desire now, not postponing it for a couple of decades, is that perceptions of the source of happiness change as one ages. And he uses Laser sailing as an example of this saying that when you are in your fifth or sixth decades Laser sailing doesn't make the list as sufficiently restorative or rewarding or even fun. The implication being, presumably, is that you should go Laser sailing NOW while you still have the desire.
Of course Nick knows that not everyone feels like that about Laser sailing in later years because he adds as a sly afterthought, "Don't tell that to the Laser sailing grandfather of six, Tillerman."
Does desire for Laser sailing decline as one ages?
I guess I look at it from a position that could give me a distorted view. I have been racing my Laser in the UK and the US and several other countries for over 30 years so I see plenty of people in their 40s and 50s and 60s (not to mention a few in their 70s and 80s) sailing Lasers. I see the ones who kept their desire.
Sure everyone gives up Laser sailing eventually. But I see the ones who stop Laser sailing because their knees or backs or hips give out - or they die. And, sure, I also see ones like the man in Nick's article who give up Laser sailing because they say they are too busy with family and career to sail. I guess I just don't see the ones who once had the desire but lost it before they really got round to taking up Laser sailing. I'm not saying they don't exist; just that I don't mix in those circles.
To be honest, I do find my own desire for some aspects of Laser sailing waxing and waning as I get older.
Some winters I am enthusiastic about frostbiting. Other winters I'm not.
Some years I get all excited about doing major regattas like a Laser Masters Worlds or North Americans. Other years I can't be bothered with all the faffing around that is involved in sailing major events.
Some years I like to travel a lot to sail. Other years I just want to enjoy sailing in my own (metaphorical) back yard.
But I have never yet totally lost the desire to sail my Laser.
Yesterday evening three of us went Laser sailing on the Sakonnet River launching from Third Beach. Two of us are in our seventh decades, the other is in his eighth decade. One of us drove ninety minutes to be there. It was a glorious sunny evening (if a little chilly for late May.) The wind was in the south and was stirring up some waves on which you could occasionally catch some rides downwind. We did some rabbit starts and chased each other round and round a short windward leeward course for about ninety minutes. Afterwards we all agreed we had had a marvelous time and that this spot was one of the best imaginable places in the world for some Thursday evening Laser sailing fun. And that we would damn well do it again next week.
We still have the desire.
Sshhh! Don't tell Nick Hayes. (But do go and read his SpinSheet article and buy his book.)