Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quotes


 A 70 year-old wooden 110 keelboat sailing in Tomales Bay out of Inverness Yacht Club

Two quotes have been rattling around in my head of late. The first is by E.B. White, my favorite American essayist who shared my obsession with sailing:


"If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most. A small sailing craft is not only beautiful, it is seductive and full of strange promise and the hint of trouble." -- E.B. White


The second passage, this one by Joseph Campbell, points at something I suspect is true:

People say that what we're all seeking is a meaning for life...I think that what we're really seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on a purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we can actually feel the rapture of being alive. --Joseph Campbell

The experience of being fully alive is available everywhere, of course. For me, it is readily accessible while sailing a boat moving in the confluence of flowing wind and water.

There's nothing obviously meaningful about sailing; it's simply exhilarating beyond measure.

20 comments:

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Beautiful quotes. Perhaps sailing is not a meaningful contribution - but it is meaningful to you, as it seems to make your spirit soar. Life is meaningful and so is 'the rapture of being alive' that we all find in our own unique ways. Meaningful service is a whole other area.

The Pollinatrix said...

It's funny - I've heard the song "Cool Change" by the Little River band twice on the radio in the past week. Are you familiar?

steven said...

see dan that campbell quote resonates with me and my biking. it is when i feel most physically alive and dependent on my body to take care of business while my mind looks after the surface beauty and my soul engages with the whole through the little entry points of beauty that my mind "sees". lovely quotes - both of them. steven

Jenny Stevning said...

Beautiful, yet again! I have been sitting here thinking if I have one thing that does to me what sailing does to you. I can't think of one. But I can find that feeling in small experiences...slivers and chunks of time...observing the world around me. I love the Campbell quote! Sometimes, a fresh roll of scotch tape or clean bed sheets can being on the 'rapture of being alive.' Thank you, Dan.

Margaret Pangert said...

Hi Dan~ I'm so happy for you that you have found a rapturous life experience! When my mind gets out of the way, I can lose all sense of time and enjoy playing the piano, making collages, feeling something spiritual at Mass. However, my mind doesn't always get out of the way, and these activities become self-conscious, wooden, artificial. It's a wonderful goal to find an experience on a physical plane!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Bonnie,

As I wrote this, I thought about whether serving others is meaningful, or if it's simply another way of feeling very alive. I decided that I was sure it was the latter, and less sure that it was the former.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Pollinatrix,

No, not familiar with that song.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Steven, thanks. I was talking about you to my wife today, appreciating how you've inspired me to see even less of the media than ever before.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi Jenny, thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed this post. Sailing does it for me, as do many other activities. Music, bicycling, hiking, and teaching kindergarten work this way for me too. I guess the point is it's not JUST sailing. Sailing does a really good job, though.

Alden Smith said...

Great, great, quotes Dan, I love them both very much - I agree that sailing is not obviously meaningful but it does provide a context and becomes a catalyst for meaning to blossom - a very particular meaning though, not words, but beyond words - it talks to us about the meaning of the wind that strokes your face, the cadence / sound of water, the feeling of the force of nature felt through a tiller, the elemental taste of salt on our lips, images for our eyes that send a message to the heart that says - its very good to be here, to be alive, to be sailing.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Alden, I was thinking of you as I posted this because I knew you'd be able to relate deeply to it. And yes, it is very good to be alive, to be here, to be sailing. And yes, tillers are a part of that. No wheels for me.

The Pollinatrix said...

Ok, well, I looked at your music interests on your profile and am reasonably certain that you'll enjoy this song. So here's a link to a YouTube presentation of it - with leaping dolphins, even!

And since we're on quotes, I'll give you one from the song: "It's kind of a special feeling when you're out on the sea alone, staring at the full moon like a lover."

The Pollinatrix said...

Right - forgot to copy the link. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9bKwRW0l-Qk

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Pollinatrix—

Thank you for the link! You were right on. I did enjoy the song and the video images that go with it. I guess it is evidence of me credentials as a media hermit that I've never heard of Cool Change or of the Little River Band. Now I have, though, and thank you for introducing me to them.

The Pollinatrix said...

Your welcome! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

denysmaco0l said...

nice post!!!!!
please visit me back!!!!!

Culture of Indonesia

thankzzzz......

Sarah Lulu said...

Dan ...love those two quotes ...

The boat one could also apply to a man!

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Sarah Lulu,

By Golly, you're absolutely right. And, I think, from this side of the divide one might also say that the boat one could apply to a woman. Perhaps my interest in sailing boats is simply a sublimated sexual impulse! I'll have to think on that. But, to be fair, I must point out that the boat I sail now is the same one I first purchased almost 30 years ago. (And it's the third Laser I've owned. I'm the loyal type!)

The Pollinatrix said...

Would that make you a "nautical monogamist"?

Dan Gurney said...

Yes, I guess I'm a nautical monogamist.

That said, I'm getting a little "long in the tooth" for the craft I picked out when I was 28 years old. My eye has begun to stray a little and I've been mentally shopping for a boat that better matches my body as it becomes a little less strong and supple. Hence my "obsession" of late with small boats.