Sunday, February 10, 2013

Testing the Waters

You never know what you are capable of until you are tested in the waters. Once one has come through a testing we can say, "I know that I can cope with that and get through it, so I can push through that much storm thus far, which opens my possibilities." When the family of the pianist and I managed a wooden cabin cruiser for over twenty years it was scary at first running the inland Salish Sea. I had at first made tentative forays on calm days till I mustered up courage and took three of my friends for a weekend of fishing several kilometers out in the briny deep. I had taken the Power Squadron course and read a book on seamanship as well. I guessed that I was ready. The weather was calm for two days and we had a great time putting into moorages along the way and celebrating our feats of seamanship on land and sea . On the way back to the homeport the weather changed and the boat, already an older boat at that time, with a wooden dingy that would accomodate one, blew off the transom and broke up. We secured our life jackets and stayed whitefaced at the large following high seas, that swung our backside from side to side like a dog in heat until we entered the first safe harbour along the way, still far from home. We anchored out and called to the waterfront houses till some one rowed out and rescued us. The pianist picked us up and drove us home. She said to all of us, "You guys stink." That of course compounded the chagrin. Sailors indeed. Stinky nonsailors indeed. That foolhardy experience, notwithstanding however ill prepared I was, taught me what our boat could cope with; tested by the waters. Yet, whatever foolhardy lack of preparation was present, I learned in spades. It's hard to learn everything from a course, when passion will teach you from experience.  As one prepares for, and expands what you thought were your limitations, as in the limitations of your craft, one pushes the boundary further and further incrementally, always aware of the endpoint of pushing the boundaries to foolhardiness. There has never been a shortage of life without risk in the young, but calculated risk unfortunately only comes with experience. Mistakes if you survive can frequently teach more than success.

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