Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Zen of Boats (again)

Buddhist practice often uses the image of a rainbow to illustrate both the illusory nature of  all things and to demonstrate their impermanence. Now I'm not a Buddhist (nor am I a non-Buddhist) but I suppose this image is used because all of us, at one time, have chased a rainbow only to discover that its end can never be reached, that there is no end. This brings me right back to boat work. Although our lists have gotten considerably shorter over the years,  that proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow continues to, at times, lure our minds and cause all kinds of conflict. What exactly am I talking about?

I have a confession to make. I'm not perfect. Sometimes I push and push and push to get a project done because I think that when it is finished I will be happy. I fall into the 'if only' mentality, you know... 'if only we get the haul out over with', or 'if only we got the solar panels installed', or 'if only we had one boat', or a million other 'if onlies' that sneak into my consciousness when I'm too busy to pay attention to the important things like my breath or they way Chopper runs down the dock balancing on only three legs.

And this is where the boats have truly been my guru. It is said that a guru is like a spotless mirror where we can see both the beauty and the ugliness of our inner life. Our weaknesses, virtues, doubts and strengths are revealed thru both joyful and painful experiences. (Excerpt taken from "The Journey Home" by Radhanath Swami) This is how the boats feel to me. In their steady presence the face of my  weaknesses, joys, and doubts is revealed.

Poets, dreamers, romantics and seekers of all types go out to sea to experience the solitude of the ocean and the oneness with Life. Sailing, and the sea is used in many spiritual metaphors. We have yet to go to sea, but if these boats can teach us such lessons tied to the dock, I can only imagine what awaits us out there in the deep.


jomamma said...

If only... I could win the lottery.

Mid-Life Cruising! said...

Great post and we can sooo relate! None of us are perfect and sounds like ya'll are getting a lot done!

Drew Frye said...

Which is it we enjoy more: working on the boat or sailing the boat? Some tinker and tinker and never go to sea. Some HATE anything that involves grease and want a boat that is like a car; just turn the key and go.

I'm somewhere in the middle. I enjoy the thought that goes into tweaks and improvements, but the engine repair and cleaning I could skip. I love the sailing and exploration, but I could skip the hottest days and the thunderstorm warnings and lightening.

I'd like to think I have a realistic zen, refined over the years, such that I understand the effort and rewards I get; some times I like the outcome, sometimes not so much. Ying and yang.

Waiting for hurricanes is one of the parts I don't like.

Travis and Maggie said...

So true Drew. I'm not sure which one we are yet. So far it has been ALL boatwork. Up to date we have sailed about five times. Its the inexperience that keeps up docked during anything but the perfect days, and since its hard to schedule those to work with our schedules... well you know the rest.