Ahoy! As anyone who is my Facebook friend, or who I’ve seen
recently, knows, I have been taking sailing lessons.
This week-long class, which I would normally consider
completely frivolous (and still sorta do) took place at the Chautauqua
Institution, where Michael works for the opera, and where I would be
I took sailing for several reasons:
never done it before, and I thought it would make me sound cool. Not like Bob Wileyin What about Bob?
be a sailor. And
talk about things like wind speed and gybing and hiking out.
finished a gig in the middle of June, and had nothing
scheduled for the rest of the summer. Or the rest of the year
for that matter.
The week I started sailing, I felt like I
had nothing to look forward to in my career. A year prior to that, I’d been
booked a year in advance. And here I was, spending the second half of the
summer around other singers with upcoming engagements, including the one they
were doing right then, and I had…well…I’M LEARNING TO SAIL!
See how it makes me sound less like a
And that may be the biggest thing I learned from sailing.
A metaphor for life in general.
Life is much like sailing. You can sit on the dock, safely,
watching the bold ones get in the water on the first day when the head
instructor tells you it’s uncommonly windy, and difficult even for experienced
sailors. Or you can plan to capsize and get wet, saying, “it’s only water” with
a shrug, pretending you have a good deal more courage than you really do, and
get out there and have the time of your life learning something new.
Every day of your life you will make that choice: stay safe
in the dock, and do nothing, and go nowhere, or get in the boat and hope and
pray that it all works out. And be prepared for when it doesn’t—one of the most
important sailing skills is knowing how to right your boat when you capsize.
Sometimes you will be sailing along, thinking everything is
peachy keen and you’re starting to be great at this! when the wind shifts,
leaving you “caught in irons:” drifting in the wind, with a flapping sail.
No, you are not a failure. You’ve just been thrown another
challenge to work your way out of, and with patience and practice, you can pick
up a new wind and sail in another direction.
Maybe I’m being too simplistic in this, and maybe I’m just
looking for an outlet for a frustrating career in the arts.