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Best seats in the house

OoH Jul 22, 2014, by Tessa van den Berg in Yacht

Front row seats in the best theatre ever!
And some soul searching questions...

Imagine yourself sitting outside, with a plateful of good pasta pesca (fish). You feel the fresh wind striking through your hair. Under you the boat is rocking gently as if you are safely floating around in your mother’s womb. In front of you the sun silently hides herself behind the orange coloured horizon. In minutes she will only leave a trace of beautiful pastels behind. But you know, tomorrow she will be back again. And, if this all is not enough to make the corners of your mouth pull up happily, a pod of dolphins swims by.

You have a dilemma: what should I look at? Sunset or dolphins? Sunset or dolphins?
A dilemma full of luxury; normally my days go by without having to choose between these two miraculous options...

Today I was standing behind the wheel. Finally northerly winds! We have all three sails up. We do 'only' 8.5 knots but at least we kill the engine. How nice and silent.

The sun is shining and waves rock us around. I try not to steer to hard – that would be like braking in a car and a pity to lose speed. But the waves that come from our starboard side vary in power and height, so you have to concentrate. Follow their push and, as they lift you on their top, the drop will follow. It is then that you should steer and try to get back on your compass heading. Looking ahead aiming for a landmark to use as a target is not an option, there are no landmarks on the horizon and we are surrounded by only sea. You have to return to using your intuition. You can only follow your feeling.

Standing at the wheel that makes me realise the parallels between sailing and coping with my disease.
Everybody is different, as is every boat. There is no strict manual; you have to trust your feeling that your body will tell what is good for you. You can only follow the stream. Do not fight it. It seems to be the best way to go forward. Keep trust that the wind will take you, maybe not in the direct route but eventually you will find your destination.

And if wind stands for 'life' that might be the same for living with MS. Keep faith and a path will be found. Maybe not the route you had initially planned, but still, any path will lead to somewhere.

I have been on this boat for little over a month now and I still do not know oi sailing like this (the hectic, sometimes stressful, long around the world trip) is necessarily good for our bodies with MS.

Do not get me wrong, I see how good this project is to create the needed awareness. It strikes me when I meet people who haven't dared to tell the people around them, family or working relations, that they have MS hidden in their body. They must live in lonely fear. I cannot imagine what that must be like.

I have also seen how this yacht has changed perspectives in the lives of people with MS and their relatives, even after just a short taster sail. It is amazing and I would not have believed it had I not have seen it with my own eyes.

But for our own bodies I have wondered if the project is maybe a bit too heavy? We tie ropes with hands that lack control. We pull sails although our muscles have little power.  On land I am bad at climbing stairs, whereas here, you are constantly climbing little steps.

But it works!

Because of my MS I sometimes feel the need to isolate myself. To get back on my own energy. Not to get disturbed by noises and stress from a busy surrounding. Being on this little crowded boat there is no space to isolate yourself. There are people and noises everywhere.
Heaving MS means that you need to take care of your little energy. You need good sleep. Here we take nightshifts... That is only a couple of striking differences.

But being outside does so much good.

It brings energy and fresh air in our brains and bodies. The changing of roles and patterns will have a long term impact. Who would have imagined that I could, for example, take care of the cooking? On land family and friends are way better at that. Or is it because I do not try that anymore due to old roles and patterns? And if that goes for the cooking, is there maybe more that I can handle myself that for now I have put in the hands of my loving family and friends?

Lots of questions. With only a few days left for me on Oceans of Hope, I will try to find some answers.

When I look up from my plate I am amazed by the beauty of sea life. My eyes go from dolphins to sunset, dolphins to sunset. It gives me goose bumps all over and for that, I am sure, experiencing nature in such a way will do everybody good. With or without MS.

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