What does Mark Manson’s “The subtle art of not giving a f*ck” have to do with sailing? At first glance, I have to admit, not a lot. Somewhere two thirds into the book, Mark talks about something that struck me as a fundamental concept. A concept that has been lurking in my head, but one that I had never realized fully. He talks about the process of gaining happiness by battling through your problems. Gaining happiness by facing your fears and the very hard truths about yourself.
If we’re in a bubble, it’s the weirdest bubble I’ve ever seen, where everybody hates everything.
– Marc Andreessen
We live in a world of hyperconnection and constant input. It’s incredibly hard to escape the bubble of social media , sensationalism and hyper connectivity. We get constantly bombarded by extremes – the extremely successful, the extremely smart, the extremely beautiful. We all aspire to be something bigger than what we are. It seems that if you are not a rock star, conference speaker or opinion leader, you have somehow failed in your life.
This leads us down a road of chasing illusionary images of other people’s success. It opens a door for petty jealousy. It leads us away from focusing on what really matters – personal growth through one’s own values and our own struggle to live up to them. Instead of chasing an illusion, focus on the process that helps you to get better according to values that you chose.
Forget your day dream
Too many people obsess about the mental image of being fit and toned. And in that day dream they forget about the need to actually go to the gym. People dream about being famous singers, but forget about the process to get there: the nights singing in smoky clubs, the endless hours of practise, the constant throat ache.
And this is where sailing comes in. At least for me. We have the goal to sail the seven seas at some point in time, but this is not how we got into sailing. For me sailing is a continuous process of learning. The struggle of coming into a crowded marina, and docking a boat into the crossing wind under the critical eyes of people sipping cocktails on their yachts. The humbling experience of being caught in a squall, battling with the elements, not knowing how you are ever going to make it out of this. The mainsheet shackle breaking as you are wrestling down the mainsail, the flurry of action, trying to be in three places at the same time. It is that epic battle with your own fears, accepting your own insecurities and learning by making mistakes that attracts me to sailing.
Even though we have been sailing for a while now, I don’t feel like we have even scratched the surface yet. There is so much more to learn and to experience. So many new ways to stretch ourselves. As Robert Louis Stevenson said: “To travel hopefully is better thing than to arrive”.