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I have a confession to make…

Ok, here it goes.

I’m really not that good a sailor. I know, I know, I’ve got the salt and pepper beard, the torn t-shirts, deck shoes, and raccoon-eyes tan like all good sailors. But I’m really not that good a sailor. I haven’t crossed any oceans. I don’t know a thing about racing. I can’t splice the main brace. I’ve never used a ‘fid’. Honestly, our boat is cutter rig with a intermediate sail called a ‘staysail’ and I really don’t know how to efficiently use it. Frankly, I ‘just’ learned a lot about sail trim from reading a Monitor Windvane Installation Manual about 2 months ago.

The list of what I don’t know is far more impressive than what I do know when it comes to sailing.
But here’s what I do know:

  • You learn by doing
  • Everyone has to start somewhere
  • Starting is the hardest part
  • Failure is the best teacher
  • You build on experience

Sailing may not be your thing. The important nugget to take away from this blog is to ‘try’. Whatever ‘it’ is- try. There’s no one there to stop you. You can do it. If you don’t like it- do something else. There’s no shame in changing your mind. If nothing else, you have succeeded in eliminating another ‘what if’ from the long list of possible regrets. At worst, you’ll have a great story to share. At best, you’ve found a greater truth that cuts to your core and electrifies you with the brilliance of possibilities- and yes, you’ll also have great stories to share.

WARNING: You should stop reading here if you have absolutely no desire to have any new experiences!

I’ve done some really dumb things- and that list would be VERY long. One of the smarter things I’ve done when I hit thirty was to give myself a birthday present every year of a new experience. It’s absolutely brilliant really, and of course it wasn’t my idea. Every year I would try something new. Very intentionally and deliberately. I always had a “I’d really like to try that…” list and it wasn’t getting any shorter. When I started getting OLD (here I am 9 years later and feel younger than ever), I figured I’d better start whacking away at the wish list.

One year I took two ballroom dancing classes. Now my professional dance choreographer wife will be the first to tell you, I am not an astounding dancer. I have lead feet and bad timing, but I wanted to be able to at least do the Waltz at weddings. I had an embarrassing but good time with a trusted female friend who vowed secrecy. I took up photography. I tried cooking. I took sailing lessons (yup that’s how this mess all started- you see where I’m headed with this…), I took flying lessons (400+ hours as a private pilot and I’ve owned 4 airplanes since then, but it’s hard to land an airplane on a 33 foot boat!). I tried making beer (I’ll be leaving that to the pro’s). The gifts of experience to myself didn’t have to be big and they weren’t centered around the acquisition of all the toys for that hobby. They did take time, a little dedication and deliberation. But look at what I received from ONE present every year.

  • I’ve met a lot of interesting people that I would have never met otherwise
  • I’ve found that I’m good at all kinds of things (and bad at others)
  • These experiences have lead me on a journey I could never predict (and wouldn’t want to)
  • I have a greater appreciation for people who are skilled at their craft
  • Without really trying that hard, I’ve accidentally become well rounded

Let me give you a gift, dear friend.

Sit down and write down 5-10 things you’ve always wanted to try. Don’t think too hard about it, you can always change it later. Analysis Paralysis is the death of FUN! It doesn’t have to be wild and crazy wishes like jumping out an airplane (ok, I did that one too), but it is important that your list be about EXPERIENCES not possessions. Things break, memories last a lifetime (violins play, a true Kodak moment). Here I’ll share first…here’s some of my current ‘wish list’ items:

  1. Take a creative writing class
  2. live in a foreign country
  3. learn to windsurf
  4. learn more about alternative energy (FREE POWER!)
  5. Become a licensed captain (I’ll have to get a hat for that one)
  6. spend a winter snowboarding (dude!)
  7. get a masters degree (vanity, I know)
  8. play professional poker (hey man, it’s a WISH list!)
  9. sail to the Bahamas
  10. write a magazine article

My birthday is coming up in June! What should I choose? Oh, this is SOOOO EXCITIING! It may take ALL YEAR to fulfill my wish and I might change my mind if an opportunity presents itself. It’s even OK if I don’t do anything- it’s the gift to dream that is important. Execution is important, it’s the only way you’ll realize your true potential, but you gotta have a dream first.

Ok, I got my list. Do you have yours? Now pick one.

You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.

3 comments to I have a confession to make…

  • Captain Mike

    Just read this one and guess what I did not know we both had birthdays in June. Take care and happy B’day…….

  • big cheese

    Thanks Captain Mike-

    Just in case anyone was wondering, Captain Mike was the guy who taught me to sail. We can all blame him!

    He’s a great guy and a great sailing instructor. He came down to the BVI and captained one of our sailboats during our wedding. We had about 18 people down to the BVI for our wedding and then a week of sailing.

  • big cheese

    I wrote this post in April of 2009. In June of 2009 we bought a boat in Mexico. It’s September now and we’re planning on moving onto the boat in Mexico after our 2nd baby is born.

    It’s crazy where stating your intentions will lead you even without your knowing it consciously.

    I had forgotten about this post and when a friend pointed it out I went back and reviewed the list and I am actively pursuing:

    1. taking a creative writing class
    2. living in a foreign country
    4. learning about alternative energy
    10. writing a magazine article

    Not bad for spending ten minutes to make a list and then forgetting about the plan.

    Take some time and give yourself the gift of dreaming.