The Most Beautiful Nation
More beautiful time spent on the water…The more I go out, the more I realize that I’m reveling in the contradictory feelings of being at once powerful, and being supremely weak. Having my flaws and assumptions instantly exposed and shattered by a gust of wind. While at the same time enjoying moments, brief flashes of extreme competence and agency. The more I sail the closer I feel to Moitessier…or perhaps, I feel the depth his passion for the sea:
“I am a citizen of the most beautiful nation on earth. A nation whose laws are harsh yet simple, a nation that never cheats, which is immense and without borders, where life is lived in the present. In this limitless nation, this nation of wind, light, and peace, there is no other ruler besides the sea.” -Bernard Moitessier
If the sea is a nation, then the boat is her church. A place to feel small. To be in the service of a larger force. A place where through ritual, diligence, and observation you are shown how to live.
As a man with no religion, one with no faith, this overwhelming sense of being attuned to an all-powerful invisible force, that suddenly, as I’m surrounded by water and in some small way risking my life, has direct and true impact on how I live my life. This sense frightens and enriches me. It forces me to confront myself, to live in the present moment and still allows for ample time to reflect.
Sailing back down river on a reach I was working the traveler. On a tack I released the wrong side and the full force of the mainsail tore the sheet right through my hand. You don’t soon forget a rope burn like that! But I learned, I reset myself and payed closer attention to my task and was reminded of the respect I must have for the forces I am dealing with.
With each lesson, I grow. As I grow, I move closer to the nation Moitessier experienced. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to become a citizen as well.