On Being Prepared

August 8, 2011
Waking up each morning is like hearing the starting gun go off and knowing I’m five seconds below the line, stuck on Port tack, and sitting in everyone’s bad air. Even if you don’t know what that means, trust me. It sucks. And instead of thinking ahead like I should be, I’m thinking of right now. I’m thinking of playing it safe: Taking my 720 before the foul, giving my friends a little extra buoy room, and changing, then re-changing my outfit twice; like that one bowline you’re not sure you tied quite right. Of course, there are some problems you just can’t anticipate. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 nautical miles off shore, just out of the channel, or even in the safety of your own home. There will always be things that you aren’t prepared for.

I used to live my life in fear of those kinds of problems. Every day I found myself wishing that there were sailing instructions for life. Life instructions, or something. I wanted to be prepared. I sent myself backup copies of my homework, and I was always the one planning when I went out with my friends because I never missed a detail. I wanted to know every wind shift that was coming my way. But I didn’t, and more often than knot, I missed some tiny detail and got hit in the face by the boom.

So instead of going out or having fun, I sat around waiting for something to go wrong, stared at my ticklers the way a starving man stares at steak, waiting for the slightest indication that something was off. Because that time, I was going to be prepared. At least that’s what I told myself.

But you know what? I was lying to myself. Being prepared wasn’t actually that beneficial. It was time consuming. It was stressful. And frankly, I was tired of being prepared. It took all the fun out of life.

So I decided it was time for a change. I decided that instead of sitting around and preparing, I was going to actually do something with my life. So I did. Now, I take things as they come. I tie my bowline once, take my 720 after the foul, and only give as much room as I need to. When it rains and I forgot my umbrella, I braid my hair. When I forget to check the ferry times, I call a taxi. I take advantage of every good thing that comes my way. And when something happens that I’m not prepared for? I just act like I am.

It really works; I promise. I’m not encouraging procrastination or anything. I’m encouraging preparedness through unpreparedness. I know that may not make the most sense, but it usually happens something like this: say I’m out sailing. I’m not obsessively looking for wind shifts. I’m not panicking about a few seconds of pain. I’m enjoying the waves and the water and the experience. And when the boom swings over? I duck.

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