This was written for a US publication called “Spinsheet” that serves the yachting community. Following the attacks on New York and Washington, the paper asked readers to contribute their thoughts. With September 11th approaching again, I thought it was worth reprinting. Here’s what I wrote.
Sailing connects me with the planet, and with all the peoples of the world. It is easy to forget in these difficult times that the US is not the center of the universe, and that we are not the only people to have suffered a terrorist attack or to have lost innocent citizens in recent years. Yet every time we climb into a boat, and head away from the dock, we are physically connected, through the seas that surround the globe, to our fellow-travelers across the world.
The sea does not play favorites, or reward one ideology or religion or political system over another. We are humbled by its power, and rewarded by its beauty every time we sail. On the sea we have learned a code of behavior that is very much like the Bedouin tradition of hospitality. On the seas, as in the desert, we understand our frailty and interdependence – our need for each other. Help is granted immediately, generously, and often at some personal risk, when the need arises.
In our anger and pain, let us remember the lessons of the sea: care, tolerance, and a healthy dose of insignificance.