Eye on the Prize

John Lennon sang “life is what happens to you when you are busy making plans” and I have lived by those words almost as long as some other idioms.  Notably the Chinese phrase ‘real gold is not afraid of heat’ which measures up well with Winston Churchill’s ‘if you are going through hell, keep going.’  That’s another story for another time.

As parents we thought it best to learn sailing before the kids, although due to bad weather, the adult course was cancelled last month and we missed this month’s.  No matter, our eldest who is only 6 and 3/4 managed to be included in this month’s kiddy sailing class called ‘Tackers’ and last week learnt to capsize and right his small sabot.

So long as we had one of our five ‘crew’ learning to sail before the Southern Hemisphere winter arrives, we would be taking baby steps in the right direction.  It is only four Saturdays from 9am to 1pm and our first son has taken on a new dimension already, has little black rubber diving boots and a full body suit to protect against deadly box jelly fish.   

In just the last week since the first lesson, his younger brother has added so many nautical phrases to his own vocabulary, even if not exactly correct to describe the prevailing wind on land as “tacking.”

The sailing club also had an open day last Sunday so all of us, minus the baby had a chance to jump aboard any of the sabots with a teenaged skipper and go for a free sail around the bay.  Most of the teenagers barely older than 10 years could steer and manage sails with surprising ease.   

Regardless, that mere hour of aimless wind powered speed was enough to convince my wife we can eventually buy a larger boat if the three children become able crew and help with going longer distances free of fossil fuels and traffic jams.

For now, four of us will have to remain onshore and delay our practical sailing lessons until after winter and my June trip to Vietnam.  Nevertheless, we have a heated swimming pool to practice doing 50 meter stretches of survival swimming which is the minimum for sailing crew.  Also gives us time to review the secondhand boat market more closely.

A few months ago we saw an excellent condition yacht that had already circumnavigated and was being sold by an elderly couple in Newcastle.  When I spoke of my plans with the owner he suggested we avoid single hulls if sailing with three kids and talked us out of buying his sailboat.  Instead he suggested we look into sailing catamarans, which hideous and ungainly as they look, are more stable in rough seas and offer more floor space for kids to play without much danger of tripping overboard.

My wife will probably never be able to repay that owner enough for such valuable insight and ironically for the last four years the dream concept boat photo hanging above my two meter map of the World in our living room, is actually a two-hulled motor vessel, shaped and decorated like a tropical island with palm trees and solar panels, albeit without any sails.

It must have been 20 years ago some coaching gurus were mostly telling people to keep a photo or dream collage beside their desk to remind them what they were working towards.  None of our Guangzhou staff ever leveraged that concept, bar one who managed to save up and buy a thick coated huskie like the one he had a photo of taped to his CPU.  Just the sort of dog you want in a high rise Chinese apartment block amongst 25 million in a city with questionable delicacies and Saharan summer temperatures.

More important than just keeping your eye on the prize or dream, is a daily commitment to actions, no matter how small towards learning, practicing, networking and/or fine tuning what it will take to BEcome someone DOing everything with focus towards anything you want to HAVE.

That’s the good thing about working as team, because if only one person is working on the plan, that’s better than no one.  There’s more than 7 million on Team Human Race, and there is more than one of us quietly working towards a better World. 


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