It’s not our constitution.

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No, this is not about the US constitution (I’m UK anyway lol!) but a query for a copy of the constitution of the CVSS sailing group I volunteer with. The sailing club that share our lake had noticed that, though from many varied backgrounds, we always seemed to all get along well without the divisions and politics they were having problems with – so common in our society. They figured it must be our constitution that kept us all so happy and unified and thought perhaps they could get some tips from it.
They were wrong of course. Though we must all read the constitution it was hardly something we thought about. The reason for our lack of friction, I feel, had a lot more to do with the volunteers themselves, particularly the founders, who devote a great deal of their time to it, always smiling and encouraging, without any pay etc. To start with, it takes a big hearted person to donate their time free of charge, in all weathers, on a regular basis. Add to that we take the disabled sailing, which takes someone with patience, empathy and good humour. I’ve found with many volunteers they have someone in their close family who is disabled which tends to expand the heart and deepen the spirit. In addition, perhaps it may also have some bearing that a large number of volunteers are retired and thus have reached the maturity of being at peace with who they are. They are not out to establish their place in society so find it easier to let things pass. Also the water, lake, wind, and sun (when there is some lol!) tend to relax and calm frazzled nerves.
I must admit in the three years I’ve been there, I’ve never witnessed even a cross word (though as we are human beings I’m sure there must have been some). Any needed “corrections” are always given with love and a sense of humour and any irritations quickly forgotten. Even debates on politics and Brexit (we do have a few folks with strong opinions lol!) were tactfully deflated and laid to rest by some nonchalant words of wisdom.
I wish society as a whole could operate in this way, but as stated, it would take more than a new constitution.

sailors

(Just a few of our volunteers – including all days and seasons we have over two hundred I believe)

bitter sweet.

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Contrasts wring my heart today. Hidden beneath the seat of one of our boats are another batch of eggs, while proud parents walk their gosling brood across the jetty to explore the spring. In contrast I take one who has served, now aged, recovering slowly from a life changing operation. He cannot remember now, he tells me with a touch of sadness, how to sail. As I take him slowly out on the lake contrasting his former lifelong abilities with my incompetent navigation, it begins to return.

“Loosen the starboard line, just a wee bit, see, let it catch the wind…” I see the joy of sailing kindle in his eyes, but he is no longer the teacher, the one who takes the disabled out on the boats. The tide has changed, we all fuss over him with hugs, tea and cakes and sailing…

I sense his time drawing nearer as the goslings is beginning, life’s circle coming to an end, volunteer becoming sailor. He keeps a smile but it’s hard. I’ll take him again, we all will, his investment has grown dividends of love and friendship, what he has given he will receive.

Joy and Freedom from an unexpected source.

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sail

(disclaimer- not the kids I was with)

I regularly volunteer with a charity taking mentally or physically handicapped kids/adults sailing. A very active and enthusiastic school group of about twenty kids arrived smiling and shaking hands with everyone.

One girl wearing a tiara introduced herself as “Queen Esmeralda” and asked if we could go on the green catamaran together. She was whisked off to “buddy sail” in one of the small sail boats, but since I’m only beginning to sail I however was detailed to the catamaran. My arms were already aching due to the gusty conditions I’d been paddling in all morning, but who could resist the smiles?

Our boat consisted of a carer, another sailing volunteer, and a bunch of enthusiastic (if not so effective) boys at the paddles. I’m so glad I went we had such fun! We fed bread to the ducks and swans (having to flee when a whole flotilla pursued us). We played pirates racing or trying to catch the other red catamaran. The boys faked sinking (waving arms and calling for help) to the paroling safety boat who then joined in the fun for a while sending waves our way to resounding squeals and laughter as the canoe tossed on the break. I looked at the kids and recalled the other groups I’d taken out and realised – these guys really know how to have fun. They were totally free just being themselves.

I watched the black preteen seated across from me “break dancing” his arms, his smile about to overtake his ears when a wave hit, I recalled the downs syndrome girl earlier that wouldn’t take off her hood for her carer to take a photo till I said she was so pretty we wanted a picture – then what wreaths of gleaming smiles she shone for the camera.

Attending my grandson’s school play that evening I couldn’t help but see how much freer and happier the kids on the lake had been. They weren’t in the least inhibited as were the “normal” school kids trying to be cool.

I realized how much I can learn from these folks, adults and kids both. I could never match those radiant smiles.  Credit must of course be given to their wonderful carers and parents, you can easily see they are loved and cared for.

The phrase, ” without guile” comes to mind regarding these kids, their joy is genuine and I’m honored to have shared in it.