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Escape Velocity


There once was a boat called Escape Velocity. While sailing on it with dear friends, I often thought about the name and what it meant. Sailing is not exactly a fast sport, so I had a hard time relating it the defined “speed required to escape the atmosphere” It seemed nonsensical; so I pondered other possible meanings. “Adequate speed is essential in all of life, as is in sports. Life is time, so to live wisely we must manage time…” on and on and on I went in my mind… between each tack and jibe there was ample time for thinking, while we kept our cheeks to the teak and heard the water gushing beneath our hanging feet.

I went on to consider time in reference to life and events. I recalled what I had read in Ecclesiastes 3:1 “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven”. These words make universal sense. They make the same sense as those in Kenny Rodgers song “The Gambler” : “ you got to know when hold, know when to fold out, know when to walk away, know when to run” . Truly one should try hard and learn to read the seasons of life.

When you are sailing in a regatta, it is crucial to know when to tack. That is why a good tactician plays such a key role in any sailing crew. The tactician is the one that signals the time to change course according to the wind, the mark to reach and the positions of the other boats competing. If he is early, he will probably cause the boat to make more tacks (or jibes) than needed to complete that leg of the race and therefore waste precious time. While if he is late, other boats will run a shorter course than his. However, on occasion a boat crew may pretend to tack to fool rivals. Various situations may come up which might call for reduced velocity; avoiding running out of space at the start line, for example. Now, I was only grinder, but as I watched from below I learned to appreciate our friend Don’s ability to judge precisely when we should make each move, as he carefully stood by the mast scanning the horizon. At his signal Ivan, our captain would yell “coming about!” and Beverly would make sure all actions were carried out in proper order. I have applied this sailing experience to many areas of life: one must spend quite a bit of time just looking, doing not much, waiting for the right opportunity to make each important move. I like to think of this notion as proper “escape velocity”.

My friend Ivan Murphy, owner and captain of escape velocity, led its crew to win the Banderas Bay Regatta three years in a row and then quit. He was happy with the three wins and decided to seek other pursuits. Other sailing friends, in diverse occasions have shown me examples of timeliness worth learning from. Bill for instance, sailed until he was 81. Then one morning he came by and informed me he was selling his boat, a sloop named Koloa he had kept in perfect shape and where he had lived and sailed for many years. We celebrated one last breakfast all by ourselves and then we hugged good-bye. He then went to his loved ones, spent one great month enjoying grandchildren and passed on peacefully, everything in order, all in due time.

It seems to me there is way too much speed in present lifestyles. People in general appear to be rushing to win an ever faster world race. I am grateful to have grasped the velocity to escape.


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