The other day I was hit by a boom. I was getting out of a sailboat at our community boating club just finishing a lesson. My instructor said, “You can get out now” and I was so relieved that I hadn’t capsized the boat or hit another one in the lake that I stepped on the dock forgetting there was a boat behind me. My mind was already focusing on time and my need to rush home when the metal boom whacked me on the head.
“Ow”, I cried.
“That’s why it’s called a boom.” my instructor said.
“Are you all right?” The head instructor asked.
“I think so, I said dazed.
“Just get me some ice.”
What I had to do suddenly seemed less important as I sat in the boathouse with a pack of ice on my forehead. I was forced to stop and be in the moment.
I don’t like thinking that I have to get hit on the head to remember to stay present and ground myself in the here and now. Sailing is a challenge for me. I am not a natural and have to overcome memories of long ago taking a sailing course and capsizing. I couldn’t right the boat and felt powerless and inept.
My mother used to tell me to stop banging my head against the wall. Now I wondered was sailing another wall? Should I give up this attempt to learn something that made me feel dumb, slow and old? Then, as I sat, stilled, holding the ice pack to my head I realized the wall was not sailing but the feelings that arose around it. Dumb? Stupid? Slow? This is conditioning, old patterns of thinking from the past. It is true, I am slow to remember exactly how to rig the boat and coordinate tiller and sail but when I relax I do feel the wind and there is no thought, only the sensation of moving through the water and being free. Mind, body, wind, water and sky-in harmony–and a guy in a motorboat not too far away watching to make sure I am safe. Stay the course.