Some of you know that a group of friends and I went for a two weeks sailing trip around the Italian islands of Sardegna, Elba, and a touch of Corsica. The land, the sea, the towns, the marine life, all of it was magical and beautiful. My eyes and heart were filled with beauty constantly, and my soul felt lifted the whole time.
What brings me to write this post however is the realizations I had thanks to living in a 13m long boat with 6 other fellow passengers, and the dynamics of living in such a small space together. Many people, before our departure, warned me about the probable difficulties of living so close to other people for so long. Of course two weeks is a very small amount of time, but when it comes to sailing and sharing the living space, the bathroom, and kitchen, and deck, two weeks can be a very challenging period of time: the challenge was to coexist harmoniously.
What I found was instead a confirmation of how easy it is to live in harmony when there is no competition between each other, no desire to impose a view or belief, no opinion better than another, and a general acceptance of each other bright side as well as the darker side, which at times we safely allowed to be addressed and discussed. Of course there was the “holiday” factor which made everything easier, beginning with the feeling of leaving the schedule up to the moment, the absence of must-dos, and the mentality of being in some sort of bubble outside of “reality”. Except that it was all real, we all carried the responsibility to contribute to the safety and order of our trip, the sailing, the feeding, the mood, the energetic balance, the well-being, and it worked magically well.
We were all very different personalities on board, some more outward than others, some more visceral and impulsive, some more meditative and perhaps “grounded”. On some occasions I saw the possible route of the moment into a conflict, and yet the flow, like the sea underneath us, kept its waves soft and gentle. I know it was all thanks to our disposition to maintain peace and balance among us, not giving in to judgment, competition and opinion, holding space for each other’s moment, and our will to all take responsibility for our own “part” in making this peace possible for everybody by getting out of the complaining mentality and become active participants of harmony. The odds, in a way, were against us: only we know the stories and dynamics of the relationships going on that boat: in a way, the pre-conditions for confrontation and turbulence were all there. But love “won”. The love that is translated into the unconditional acceptance of “what it is” and “who we are”.
Perhaps I should talk only for myself, but I have a feeling that we were all touched by this same magic.
One of the realizations is how important it is to have a community that is open to receive us the way we are: in our case, interests and perspectives was diverse, and so that kind of affinity didn’t really make a difference. The point was to respect each other and witness the diversity with an open mind and heart. With this approach to diversity, evident at times, we found tolerance, greater compassion, beauty and a healthy base for unity.
Sometimes we find opportunity for personal growth in a partnership: having someone next to us in a way operates like having a mirror, offering the possibility to double the exploration of our reflections. Well, to have many of these mirrors so close 24/7 intensifies this opportunity, and that’s what happened to me/us on our two weeks travel: we confronted ourselves with multiple stimulus, coming from very diverse places and walks in life, and got to explore and know ourselves and each other more. I also realize how sometimes we close ourselves in a monogamous relationship (not talking sexually here, but spiritually and reflectively) and miss the lesson of confronting ourselves, our intimate views and ideas, with more mirrors up-close. I’m not suggesting we should all live in a 13meters home with 6 people, but I am however advocating for a closer bond to our community through a greater opening of ourselves, our feelings, our vulnerable side, beyond our usual “partners” or family members. Family is a way of relating to each other and the feeling to be in the presence of family it’s never more distant than the choice to be our most authentic and open selves with another.
It happened to us, for example, to approach a couple of strangers sitting next to us at a dinner table, and speak deliberately and unapologetically like formal boundaries never existed, and saw the magic unfolding leading to a night with them which felt like a family reunion of some sort. That was a further confirmation that all we want, whether we are lawyers, artists, chefs, business people, art historians, it’s someone (a safe place) to be ourselves with and feel good about it. And this, always, depends on our disposition to welcome the other to be and do the same.
Privacy was also a field of re-visitation for me and I guess my friends on board. I gave a few thoughts about it before I left, wondering how we would have managed our “alone” moments in such a small space. Well, one of the best surprises was letting go of the usual parameters of privacy, and crack open the “alone” to those who were there with me. I very often feel comfort in solitude, seemingly a safe place for me to be and do: there was basically none of that on board, and yet it felt ideal. Whether I would have stayed in my room for another hour or two but pushed myself to join the group and found more magic and gratitude there than my cabin, or take a shower naked in front of others letting go of self-awareness, it all served a greater expansion of what I used to think were my safe zones. Safety is truly a mental state and comfort a matter of personal attitude.
There is so much to say about this experience, so much beauty captured in epic memories that I kinda not know where to go next. In this writing I mean. So I’ll leave it here, except for a big THANK YOU that I’m sending through the winds, some of which I got to meet more attentively in these last couple of weeks.
Thank you family of Baci e Abbracci (Kisses and Hugs was the name of our boat) for gifting me your presence, your friendship, everything you shared. So precious the time we’ve spent together that parts of me suffers for having to let go and move on. But hey, we’re alive and closer than ever…it’s a good place to look ahead!
Thank you Ocean, Water, Yemanjà, pachamama for your majesty. Thank you God, Great Mystery, for arranging everything so that we can feel this love…which makes being alive the greatest of all events.