Friday, April 29, 2011

Sailing and Writing

Sitting for hours at the computer and forcing words to appear becomes non-productive after a while and the writer must find some refuge from the creative impulse.  For me that refuge has always been on Sparrow, my small sailboat.

There is a saying on the Bay that you use a powerboat to get somewhere, but with a sailboat you are already there.  True, but a sailboat does not provide the powerboat's instant gratification. Instead one must prepare the sails, lower the motor (used only to move you away from the dock and congestion), and rig the lines that enable you to control the boat before casting off lines and departing.

When you raise the sails to catch the wind and still the roaring motor's sounds a quiet ensues where only the slap of waves against the hull, the cawing of the gulls, and the creak of sail and lines under pressure from the wind can be heard.  After a time, even those fade away, hardly distractions to your thoughts.  In that silence you can listen to your own thoughts, let your mind drift to wherever it takes you.

Changes of wind and tide, the proximity of other boats, and the need to change headings are the few distractions to interrupt the revery.  Cares of daily life disappear and even the current challenge of whatever piece you are writing fades from your consciousness to be replaced by reflections on the meaning of life, the cycle of civilizations, and how much a larger boat would really cost?  Thoughts trivial and deep, meaningful and incidental, transient ideas and those that you hope you'll remember occur in cascades while I, uncaring of anything but the wind and water, continue sailing into mental oblivion.

I'd like to say that some of my best ideas come from these session but that would be lying.  Instead I find that simply giving my conscious mind free rein has allowed by other mind - the one that guides my fingers on the keyboard - to rest and renew itself.

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