Wind & Waves

Waves are not caused by water, but energy passing through water. The gravitational pull of the sun and moon, wind, hurricanes, landslides and earthquakes are some of the factors that influence the waves crashing to the shore.

Last night, I was out for the midsummer yacht races. It was peaceful and calm on the shore, but in the bay it was a different story. The wind had picked up and took with it my treasured Swiss down jacket that my late husband had given me as a Christmas gift. The jacket stuffed under my seat flew out and disappeared into the churning dark water. The only thing to be grateful for in this situation was that I wasn’t in it.

I braced myself and held on tightly as the Boston Whaler hit the top of the waves over the choppy water. I looked out to the horizon and the Golden Gate Bridge as we made our way to the race start.

We dropped anchor and waited. The boat rose and fell and then suddenly the wind fell off. The water turned golden in the early evening light. I sat behind the wheel and thought that I am at a crossroad. One more July and one more August. In September, I will have both my children in college and this life as we know it will be gone.

Like the waves that move beneath me there are forces that have brought me here. As a sailor I am always fascinated by our ability to harness the wind, I love more than anything the roaring silence of a sail boat, the open horizon and the fog that sits just above the water. We can chart our course and prepare, but we are always at the mercy of the elements.

As I steered the boat back to shore I knew better than to look for my jacket. I’ve trained my mind not to look for what has been lost now. I kept my eyes steadily on my course. This was just one of the many, large and small, unforeseeable circumstances that have comprised my life.

By sunset the water had turned to glass. I recorded the times and sail numbers on the clipboard as the sailors crossed the finish line. The wind and the waves were forgotten as the boats came into the protected marina and the sun turned a fiery red dropping behind the hills in the distance.

A few years ago I was on a sailboat in San Francisco with my former sailing instructor. I stood on the bow of the boat and watched the fireworks. Music was playing, and people were laughing as the sky lit up with a million exploding lights. Later, he pulled me aside and showed me a poem he had written.

Remembering her on that day is like winter waves crashing on the horizon of my mind.

Her green eyes like the jade of sea, the sun, her warmth, the blue sky, her freedom.”

The poem sits on his Instagram account and sometimes I pull it up and read it again. At the time, when I was at the beginning of what would become the most challenging period of my life, I couldn’t see my freedom, but I knew it was there. It’s been there all along.

Love and blessings to all.

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