If I knew then, what I know now by Dave Rearick
Dave Rearick began sailing as a teenager on the shores of Lake Michigan. Follow Dave’s adventures leading up to his single-handed sailing Bodacious Dream around the world this fall at www.bodaciousdream.com & www.bodaciousdreamexpeditions.com
I’ve said it, you’ve said it, everyone has said it at one time or another … but have any of us ever really considered what it means? Just imagine … if you DID know then what you know now? What if you knew about recycling, say back in 1960, or about sustainability when you were 12 or about global climate change in 1980, when you were just 9 years old?
In May, in between Atlantic Cup race legs, 11th Hour Racing and race organizers honored several of us skippers with the opportunity to spend a sunny afternoon in New York City and a drizzly one in Newport, RI with groups of school-aged kids, touching upon all sorts of things sailing and ocean-related. Suddenly, we found ourselves cast into a whirl of questions, laughter and boundless energy, sharing some of what we know “now” about the life we live and love, with kids today … of all ages, a sort of current day pool of “then.”
BoDream’s co-skipper Matt Scharl lets the kids try on a PFD.
We watched 5 and 6 year olds giggling as they turned winches at the dock, 8 and 9 year olds visiting a harbor world in the very heart of their own city, that they probably didn’t know existed, 12 and 14 year olds tossing out questions as they sat on a Class 40 and listened to a skipper talk about sailing across an ocean or around the world. It provided us a special opportunity to share some of our experience – the mistakes, the rewards and the accomplishments with these open, fresh minds that might one day benefit from knowing some of what we know now in their years of “then.”
Matt and Dave field some tough questions.
Of course, nothing can keep these kids from doing their own stumbling, but along the way … whatever touches them today, helps to shape their tomorrows, and perhaps some of what they saw and heard and did, may just stick with them.
It was a wonderful and empowering experience, one I’d not trade for anything. In the course of it, I optimistically hoped that the young girl who climbed all the way into the very front of the forepeak and wouldn’t come out until everyone was leaving, might one day grow to have just as much tenacity and confidence when backed into a tight spot negotiating an environmentally sensitive treaty … or that the group of seven kids, who joined with Sam Holiday, to try with all their might to win a tug-of-war contest against the turn of a winch powered by one small hand, might grow to remember how a group of people can stand up to and eventually hold back the inappropriately powerful turn of a bad industry. And the young girl, frightened to take that step from the dock to the boat, who looked down at debris floating in the water and asked, “What’s that stuff? Might she grow up instead to ask … “WHY that stuff?”
Sam Holiday w/ some of the kids.
Though it seems all fun and whimsical when lively, giggling kids come bounding down the docks, it reminds me of the immense responsibility we have as adults when graced with these chances to help guide and share with young minds some of the knowledge (and more importantly, the wisdom) that we have gathered through our years that might possibly one day help to tip the scales for them in favor of the amazing future that awaits us all, if we learn to learn together.
“Education” is a hotly debated term these days … and as such, its future is questioned and argued daily, mostly by people who are neither students nor teachers. “Learning,” on the other hand, is personal and life-long. You may well use a smartphone, a tablet, an online course … not to mention a sailboat, to educate yourself about something, BUT the true test of what you learned will not be your test score as much as it will be the tangible gifts that a new skill or awareness brings to your life and to your relationships with others.
As sailors know only too well, we all learn from each other. We learn from each other at any age, and so we should try not to hesitate, but to reach out and share our experience … because wisdom, hard won, is one of life’s greatest gifts. But only when it’s shared, does its power to inspire and change become activated.
That seems to me to be the key to building the kind of world where we can learn to identify and solve problems together … because soon enough, we will sail beyond the horizon, and it will be these kids’ turn to be the voice of experience and to share their “now,” with another new generation being their “then.”
Life is a grand adventure,
live it all,
live it always.
– Dave Rearick (Skipper of Bodacious Dream #118)