Sailing, pull up the main, third reef, coming about, pull in the head sail.
Immediately my legs are braced, hands to the winch handle and I’m swinging it around, steady, engaging my whole body down to my toes, clutching at the floorboards. tummy muscles clenched, exaggerating the force, to assist my puny biceps, to win against the wind. Tugging, wrenching, stirring the handle around and around to flatten the sail. When do I ever get to do this? I understand the mechanics, I trust the ropes and shackles and I trust by body to work with these pieces of mechanic advantage to tame the power of the wind as it tries to rip the sail free.
I disappear into the task, grunting and straining, noticing with some surprise that I have become just a body, breathing heavily, sweating, pulsing with life. I notice the sun and wind on my face, my arms, salty from the sea.
With some surprise I notice myself to be simply happy in an uncommon way.
I leap up on deck to take the reef out of the main. Accustomed now to rolling lurching boat I am steady and precise. I delight in knowing how to place my foot, accurately weighted and angled for this imprecise motion, fine-tuning the relationship all the way. It’s not me and that is what is such fun. I am moving entirely differently. I’m an animal, delighted just to be alive. My eyes have changed, they’ve gone low, steady and clear. Assessing and evaluating directly with a spontaneous certainly I’m unaccustomed to. No thinking, not necessary. I know what to do directly. I uncleat the reefing line, uncleat the main sheet, and pull it up all the way. There will be no mistake, because I am beyond the thinking. I know what I am doing in the doing, and I have a sense of being fully connected, fully engaged and awake in the panorama of life: the sea, wind, sun, boat, and salt spray. I have been resurrected into life.
This is why I love sailing.
These sailing experiences — and many more — are detailed in Dyana’s Anchors in an Open Sea trilogy, beginning with book 1: The Yoga of Sailing.