Friday, March 26, 2010

Growing Older But Not Up

Last night I went to a talk at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol by Nick Hayes the author of the book Saving Sailing. His ideas about creating opportunities for families to sail together as the primary solution for reversing sailing's decline generated a lot of interest and discussion, as I expected they would.

Speaking personally, his talk crystallized for me what had been troubling me since I first read and reviewed Nick's book. While I can understand and accept his analysis and recommendations at an intellectual level, his ideas don't resonate with me emotionally. I don't feel them in my gut like he clearly does.

It's partly because Nick and I have such vastly different sailing experiences. We have sailed different kinds of boats, with different sorts of people, in very different places, for different reasons. Or maybe I'm just strange...

An example. At one point Nick put up a slide that was supposed to explain why different age groups sail, why they enjoy sailing. For my age group, the boomers, the old geezers, he said the prime reason was "Nostalgia". He told tales about guys who spoke passionately of how sailing reminded them of experiences they had shared with their fathers (not necessarily sailing... it could be fishing with Dad) or with mentors who were important to them earlier in their sailing lives. I felt no connection with this idea. Nostalgia? That's not remotely anything to do with why I sail.

Then he put up a graphic that showed the main reason why young people sail (kids under 17, I think.) The keyword here was "Fun".

Yes, yes, yes. Fun, fun, fun. That's why I sail. I wouldn't do it if it weren't Fun. That's what keeps me in sailing.

So what's wrong with me? At an age when my peers are apparently into Nostalgia, I'm into Fun. Am I still a kid at heart? Didn't I ever grow up? Am I strange?

It reminded me of a conversation I had had earlier in the day with my 4-year-old granddaughter as we played together on her swing-set in the sunshine.

I never want to grow up Grandad.

Why Emily?

I told Daddy last night, I always want to be his little girl.

Well you always will be his little girl, Emily. Even when you grow up and get married, Daddy will still think of you as his little girl.

But Grandad, that doesn't make sense. I have to grow up. I can't always be a little girl.

Well Emily, actually you don't have to grow up. You have to grow older, but you don't have to grow up. Look at me, I never grew up.

You're silly Grandad.

Yes Emily, I am silly. That's what I mean. I'm silly. I never grew up.

(Puzzled silence.... )

Am I strange?


Sam Chapin said...

If you don't have to do it, then it counts for FUN.

Ministry of Silly Posts said...

Excellent, Mr. Tillerman.

And we see you've filled out your AARP application in crayon. Good show.

Andrew said...

Have fun - life can be that simple.

[word verification = scull]

Dan said...

I have always sailed for fun. When I was a child it was fun and now as a boomer it is still fun. There is no nostalgia for me, my dad never sailed.


David said...

I'm not a boomer or a kid. Of course I sail because it's fun. It's just that as I get older, a little more nostalgia creeps in to make the experience more . . . complete. How's that t-shirt go? "The older I get, the better I was"

O Docker said...


I sail to forget.

Mike said...

Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.....

Dennis said...

I thought once you apply to AARP membership, "fun" becomes = to "nostalgia". Seems like sometimes things get overanalysed (with best intentions, of course). Keep on having fun!

tillerman said...

For the record I am not a member of AARP. Didn't seem like it would be much fun,

N Hayes said...

OK, OK. I'll change that slide to account for outliers like you who are in it for the fun.

Seriously, why didn't you stick around to say hello?


Anonymous said...

You're only young once. But you can be immature your whole life!

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