Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I'm a Mess

Yesterday, Pandabonium of Sweet Bluesette published a thoughtful and inspiring post on the subject of Winning. You should read it.

Panda sails the only Lido 14 (so far) in Japan with his wife. He doesn't sail to compete. He and his wife sail purely for fun, for the pleasure of each other's company, and to improve their sailing skills. They seem very content with the role of sailing in their lives and their approach to it.

In the post Panda talks about his attitudes to competition in his youth, and reminds us of an example from the Olympics of an athlete who won the hearts of people all over the world by demonstrating perseverance against adversity; a real "winner" even if he didn't come away with a medal.

I was touched by his post, but surprised at the end when he gave a shout-out for this blog and wrote of my "sensible attitude toward racing" and my knowing "what really makes his life worthwhile."


It doesn't feel like that from where I sit.

In contrast, I don't feel that I am very sensible at all about my approach to sailing and racing, and am always confused and conflicted about how to balance the things that make life worthwhile.

I swing back and forth from one extreme to another.

I tell myself I am one thing and act like I am another.

I write a blog about Laser sailing and about how I am trying to become a better Laser sailor and about my Laser racing.

But I am always being pulled away from Laser sailing by other enthusiasms, and often by my own laziness.

Some years I am very competitive and sail lots of regattas and even do some frostbite racing.

And other years I seem to have very little appetite for racing at all.

Some years I like to travel all over the world to race.

And other years it just seems like the rewards of that will not be worth the cost in money and effort and time.

Some times I enjoy sailing for the sheer pleasure of it, the enjoyment of solitude in wind and waves and water.

And other days I miss an opportunity to enjoy such a sailing experience because I convince myself it's too cold or too hot, or too windy or not windy enough.

I enjoy the company of other sailors both on the water and afterwards over a beer or two.

But sometimes I pass up on opportunities to meet up with friends for sailing. Last weekend was a perfect example. I could have had a fun sail on Friday with friends on Buzzards Bay but I went for a long run in the heat instead and was too tired to do anything else for the rest of the day. Then on Saturday I could have gone racing with the same friends, but I stayed at home and played with my grandkids instead.

The truth is I am not as committed to sailing as I would need to be if I really wanted to improve my racing skills significantly.

The truth is that there are other things in life, like family and running and gardening and just relaxing, that often get in the way of sailing.

Bottom line: I'm a mess.

On the other hand...

Everyone has to balance the demands for their time. Work, family, recreation, exercise, travel, relaxation. I have it better than most. I don't have to do the first thing on that list any more. And I have four amazing, fascinating little people in my life, Isabel, Owen, Aidan and Emily, my grandkids.

One of the first posts on this blog was called Focus.

Perhaps it has taken me eight years of blogging to realize that the secret of a happy life might be more about balance than focus?

Maybe that's what Panda was trying to tell me?


Keep Reaching said...

The words following "bottom line" are wrong - it should read "I'm just human".

Which, of course, includes the messy part. But not all humans are lucky enough to have gotten, at least some of the time, past the messy part and understand as you have about balance.

Baydog said...

I'm confident it's exactly what the bamboo shoot-eating blogger was trying to tell you. The bed photo sums up your priorities very simply. Run with that, Tillerman, and all the other distractions will fall into place.

Unknown said...

Tillerman, I feel exactly the same way and act the same way as you.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Luiz. Pleased to hear I'm not the only one.

Tillerman said...

My bed may be my priority Baydog but I can't get it in it because it is full of grandchildren.

Tillerman said...

I sometimes wonder about our sporting heroes and how they seem to be able to dedicate their lives 100% to one goal. My mind just doesn't seem to be wired that way.

Genie said...

Tillerman, I think you would be shocked at the reality behind some of the most successful laser sailors. As you must know, someone with the time and focus in this milieu (as indeed, most highly competitive sports) means that other important areas of their life are sadly, and often hugely, lacking. Someone with your sense of family and environment is what makes you human and heart-attractive.

Tillerman said...

Thanks Genie. That makes me feel a lot better.

But isn't there some way I could be half a knot faster upwind and still get to play with my grandkids every weekend. That's not too much to ask for is it?

Unknown said...

Tillerman, again, I ask the same thing, ask if is too much to have a new boat (mine is 163...) and to, maybe, become a good sailor. I don't think is too much. Robert Scheidt said that in his Twitter: "The challenge is to balance kids, family, championships, travels and prioritze what have to be prioritzed and don't left nothing behind". If a BIG CHAMPION has those issues I think sometimes we can have too.

Tillerman said...

I bet Scheidt said that fairly recently? Was his life so "balanced" when he was a young single man doing his first Olympic campaigns?

Genie said...

Well Tillerman, to quote that great bard, Mick Jagger, (and to celebrate his 70th birthday today!)......
"You can't always get what you want,
But if you try, sometimes you find you get what you need"

Happy Birthday, Mick!

bonnie said...

I am also a mess. So many things I love to do, not enough time to do any of them as well as I could if I could just pick one or two.

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