How to win all the time

23-may, 4:21am

Be Here Now. Almost on land, altho I hardly ever think of it that way, or succumb to the countdown. in fact, I’m the voice of opposition on-board regarding this, asserting politely that I’d rather not know any countdown-related statistics. (It’s really an opposition to Time, a principally oppressive concept.) I’m very particular about this, as my crew-mates would tell you, although to me it’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate our progress. “10 days down!” or “1500 miles behind us!” are to me quite positive statements compared wih “20 days to go” or “1500 miles to go”, as the latter sound like glass half-empty statements to me. To call attention to how much we haven’t accomplished yet has a tendency to make time drag its heels, and isn’t constructive or feel-good at all.

I’m similarly snappy about calculating end-results. like when we’re playing cards, I’m abhorred by those keeping constant tallies of who’s in the lead, or when asked how many cards I’ve got left. count your own cards. to me it’s invasive when people are so concerned with what I’m doing.. worry about yourself.

both of my peculiarities are borne out of an attempted practice of being Present, living for this moment and not for the future. In the present, a continuous satisfaction can be achieved, instead of living for an uncertain payoff later, a momentary peak or spike in an otherwise uneasy air of anticipation.

Winning. (This is a bit of a rant, and a tangent, but it’s related.) I’m not saying it’s right, but in being consistent with the Be Here Now outlook, it’s natural for me to play games with the intention of exercising skill and to have fun in the moment, preferably so that’s mutually satisfying with my opponent; not to prevent them from scoring. A good analogy might be made with Sex — can you imagine how terrible it would be if you were only aiming to please yourself, or even worse just to have an orgasm? (Okay, analogy ends here.) In cards and in sports, I play more offensively than defensively, because it doesn’t hurt me if my opponent smiles and enjoys the game too – it’s better actually. to me it’s just more fun to flex some skill and make some goals, without being preoccupied about the outcome; and there’s an abundance of opportunity within a game for plenty of this to go around. and regarding the outcome, I don’t care if I lose, as long as I’ve played to the best of my ability, and everyone had a good time. it’s playing for the moment, not to Win. one thing I don’t like about competitive sport, whether it’s playing cards, ping-pong, or verbal debate, is that if there’s a Winner there’s also a Loser. it’s ironic to me that you’re often competing with friends. in my opinion, among friends, if there’s one Loser, then everybody loses. I see winning as an ego-driven satisfaction at the expense of another, dominance of the strong over the weaker player. this is why competitive sport among friends can be counter-productive, and why intention matters so much. It’s all energy exchange; make it pretty, keep it positive.

I realize I’m up against the very fabric of our society, as we’re bred to compete, dominate, kill or be killed. It’s a bit Buddhist of me (and aligns with my veganism too) that many of my actions are guided by the intention to alleviate suffering in the world. When we live in the future, it’s either at the expense of the present moment, or can cause us suffering when it doesn’t turn out how we had planned. So forget about it!

LEG 2.2

8-May 2012, 21:01
Leg 2 to Marquesas, Day 6

Here we are, six days and 700 miles out from Galapagos on our second leg, and things are quite switched-up from the first leg:

Crew is 1/2 of what it was, and 1/2 as potent. With the Poles gone and no reinforcements, we remain 2 Yankees and the British captain. Crew dynamic is peaceful and relaxed.. the fire of Jacek and Kuba is gone and it’s neither better or worse. Less people means it’s less engaging – we’re not in each other’s face, which is fine. More room to roam, more time alone, and everything simplified. I miss our lively debates, but in its place peace and quiet reign supreme.

Trade-winds are strong and consistent. So is our speed. Good-bye doldrums! Since our first day out, we’ve been flying… and while our previous average of 3 knots made 5 knots seem like warp-speed, now 6-7 knots is average, with 8 knots not uncommon! At twice the speed as leg 1, we ticked-off 160 miles yesterday. No running the motor, pure wind power, and putting us on course to arrive in only 25 days. Funny how that doesn’t even sound long to me. At this speed tremendous forces are upon us, and with the angle of the wind coming directly off the port beam (left side), the boat rocks heavily to the right, making it feel like we’re on drugs in a fun house. Leveraging the moving floor and unpredictable gravity, sometimes Spencer and I throw things and try to catch, ala that scene in Apollo 13, except it’s always a curveball.

Sleep schedule is new, [wacky and fun getting used-to.] With only three of us, we’re on watch twice as much, eight hours a day; on for three hours, off six, perpetually. This means, for the first time in my life, I’ve employed a radically new sleep schedule. I began by attempting to accumulate 8 hours of sleep per ‘day’ in three naps, but now I stay-up as much as I feel like, drink tea with no thought of whether it’s too late or not, and waking when it’s my turn to keep watch. Casting away the nighttime sleep schedule that I adopted as a toddler means I can now enjoy constant, eternal time. (Remember, time is an invention of man with no intrinsic value to those who are free, however so convenient an idea I will continue to employ in surplus!)

Reading, writing, music… all in unprecedented abundance. Weather, wind, sun, moon, all quite regular, which makes watch easy. No more constantly adjusting the sails with changing wind directions and erratic weather systems. The trade-winds are blissful. There much time to oneself, whether on watch or off, which is a pleasant novelty after much time crammed-in with only ten feet of boat to oneself (math: 50-foot boat). And with somebody asleep at any given moment, you have at least half the boat to yourself. Hooray for personal space!

Food regime re-invented. Food preparation is so much easier. I don’t even eat breakfast most days anymore, unless I’m still up mid-morning after my 3am watch. I usually mastermind a big lunch (with planned leftovers), which we eat the last of at dinner plus some fresh-baked bread from the afternoon and a small salad (while we’ve got it). Before, feeding five took a lot of thought and coordination… too much time in the galley! Now, more time to gaze at waves.

Wildlife limited to crazy (flying) fish, all of them (except the flying mammal). The further out from Galapagos we get, the less variety of crazy marine life we see. What’s cool, however, is that most everything we can see out here FLIES. A variety of flying fish are grazing the surface all around us constantly, or sometimes landing on deck (or smashing into the side of the boat, poor things!) A variety of porpoise are spotted with regularity. For the first few days, smaller, air-borne porpoise were everywhere, jumping by the hundreds along top of the water until out of sight. This morning, a new variety called of “bull-nosed” were keeping pace with the boat (8 knots!), and at twice the size of the usual bottle-nosed and with funny big heads, smooshed noses, and longer broad bodies (10 feet), they were freaky!

Time… doesn’t exist when the perceiver is fully present. I was a bit apprehensive about this 30-40 day leg, wondering how I’d occupy myself, thinking “that’s a long time!” Now I can see how much progress I’ve made in being present, because I have yet to dwell on this future “landing”, which means less and less to me as the land retreats far beyond the horizon. I think I taught myself while cycling never to focus on the end of a ride, for it would be at the expense of the ride itself. In fact, as Julian constantly recalculates our mileage to go with each tweak of the course and new average, I strive to find new ways to remind him that I’d rather not know. 2600 miles till the Marquesas, and then another 800 to Tahiti doesn’t mean anything to me! So much to do.. I’m constantly thankful for this limited and special time, whose dimensions are only as finite and measurable as you’re willing to project on it.