To be a better man –
An old video from the Orma 60 days – the professsor doing what he does best in old Geant, now Australia’s Vodafone. A triumph of carbon and seamanship. And tres Francais to use this incredible footage to pass along a universal message – a message which got me thinking.
I am better when I am sailing. Senses buzzing, tumbling from past into future, inside a fleeting eternal moment. A wave whumps, the wind gusts, instinctively I react and the boat flies. Connected through the tiller, I harness the dreams of the designer, builder and sail-maker to slice our wake across the water. The trimaran is the pointy end of 5000 years of sailing and material technology – the ultimate expression of an ancient idea – the epitome of the sport. There is nothing in sailing compares with driving a powered up Tri. Sailing my trimaran does not make me “all better” like its a cure for some ailment – it makes me better like of higher quality. I am better – more alive, more human – on the boat than on the couch staring at the TV.
Skiing – thigh deep powder, skis connected to my whim, snow splashes on face and chest – suspended in the moment, past and future forgotten. Knees bent, absorbing bumps, breathing raspy and deep, skiing fast. In the deep again, I slide the tails sideways, float and soar through glittering white nirvana. I laugh and am better.
Cycling – drop down the gears and grind up the hill, shift weight aft for the downhill, my bike is a magic transport to right NOW. My hardtail 29er mountain bike is – like the trimaran and the skis – the latest expression of old, simple technology. Riding on a sunshiny trail, negotiating rock and tree, grinding up hill and bumpity down – I laugh and am better.
Hiking – long uphill hikes in the sunshine to magnificent vistas far above the seething megalopolis. Dark creamy nights in the desert under the infinite starry canopy; striding through great melty snowfields far above tree line, sleeping in a tiny tent in an immense landscape beside a pristine lake – I laugh and am better.
These moments, these nows, all have the same basic characteristics. They are born of physical activity in nature. They demand unity of mind and body. They suspend time. They occur most often when solo-ing. During these moments, the beauty and joy inherent in the wild astonishes and refreshes. Energy coalesces into matter – right…NOW – and just as fast subsumes into the past. A dolphin rides my bow wave, a coyote lopes across the trail, lenticular clouds stream from the high peaks, pristine untracked snow blankets a meadow, a boy on a bicycle rackets down a rocky ravine. Wild life is joyous and precious – intelligent and precocious. Wild life is not outside us – it IS us.
Go outside – and may you be better.