May 5, 2014

Sailing The Mystery: A Book With A Lot To Teach Us



Sailing the Mystery is the story of Ed Merck, a 63 year old guy who is entering the third chapter of his life more than a little adrift: he is newly divorced, his son is off to college, and his business has been sold. Alone and wondering what is next, Ed begins a journey to self discovery aboard his 36 foot boat, the Kairos, up and down the East Coast.

Along the way he meets and sails with a woman who is at times, fiery and overflowing with passion and energy, and an instant later full of anger and spite. His internal struggle to figure out if this person is a fascinating, and important part of his story. He battles storms, mechanical breakdowns, self doubt, and a sense that he is only playing a role, not the true person he is destined to be.

I am not a sailor and have never been attracted much to boats, but I found Ed's story engrossing. He doesn't gloss over the tough stuff, all while asking the questions and fighting the demons we all battle with as we age.

I underlined several dozen sentences and paragraph that resonated with me as I read his tale. I'd like to share a few of those with you, along with my reaction:

Page 5 "I was somebody in my day, Now...I realize I have become a nobody." Many of us can relate to this feeling when we left a job that had defined us and our place in the world. The author spends many chapters taking us along on his journey to figure out what he is...apart from society's definitions.

Page 7 "Why not just harvest the low-hanging fruit of my life instead of uprooting it all now and jumping into a sea of change?"  Even though change is a part of life, too often we try to hold onto the status quo, even if we might be happier on another path. Ed finds it leaving the old life behind and starting all over indulging in the passion that is sailing.

Page 58 "Once I stop arguing with the way life is, I begin to discover many other delights." If we can just take that first step off the dock......

Page 82 "I have learned that attempting to hold on to anything is an illusion." Probably one of the more profound insights to this point in the book. The tighter we grip something the more we squeeze the life out of it, and us.

Page 196 "I could see then that arriving at my deathbed without having at least attempted the dream of long-distance sailing was unacceptable, even if I ended up not liking it. In my view, the only failure would be not having tried." His understanding that not trying something out of fear you won't like it is not the approach that will satisfy. Rather, trying is its own reward in the long run.

Page 198 "Today is a good day to die. If I died today all would be well." Can any of us ask any more of  our life than that? To have few regrets and much to remember, people to love, and a sense of self equals a life well lived.

I found much to like in this book. The author is open about his flaws and his discoveries, especially his blossoming spirituality. I can recommend Sailing the Mystery.  

If you are interested in hearing from Ed, click on this YouTube video




Check out his website, Sailing The Mystery, for more.
Note: I received a free copy of this book but no compensation for this review.


12 comments:

  1. Interesting focus, Bob. As someone who has done a fair bit of (often hair-raising - if I had hair...) crewing on a friend's 31 foot sailboat, I admire Ed's fortitude and passion. That being said, I think it's important to say that one does not need to embark on a necessarily perilous journey to follow one's bliss. One can pursue "with full sail" a passion in music, art, grandchildren, charitable work or even ........ RVing. :) All full of their own sort of challenges, for sure. The main thing is not to let one's fears frighten off the pursuit of passions. Again, thanks for your blogging.

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    1. Excellent point, Steve. Of course, for a book to sell it needs elements of danger, sex, uncertainty, a strong central character, and a strong theme. Hold it...that sounds like banjo playing. Steve, get busy.

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    2. Banjo has an element of sex? Not likely. :) Reminds me of the banjo joke: What do they call a beautiful woman on the arm of a banjo picker? ...... A tattoo! (I couldn't resist).

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  2. Good review. I agree with many of the points you mentioned. You never know what you can do until you try. And, to be honest, retirement age, whatever that is for you personally, is maybe the best place to start. If not now, when?
    b

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    1. Ed's book is honest and adult. He details his struggles with loneliness without hiding the rough parts. He captures the importance of making the third chapter of life what is most satisfying to you.

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  3. Sounds good. I'll have to get it on my kindle. I esp. like the point he makes on p. 58 ...

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    1. I think you will enjoy his story and insights, Tom.

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  4. Interesting book; I'll have to check it out as well. I think everyone needs to shake themselves up now and then, whether in retirement or any other stage. While not a boater, for us it was motorcycling, something we never tried until our 40s, when our daughter was old enough to manage if anything happened to us (talk about a somewhat fatalistic attitude). For others it can be RVing, which probably gets pretty hair-raising here on I-40 when every other vehicle appears to be a semi or RV. Cliff diving, parachuting, whatever floats your boat. As long as you are stretching yourself and getting an adrenaline rush, it is all good to me.

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    1. And for some it could be going back to college to get that long delayed degree. That can be quite a stretch for someone our age.

      Stretching takes on all sorts of different forms and shapes, but as you note, everyone needs to shake themselves up now and then.

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  5. I've always been a "light" adventure kind of gal.I get big bang for my buck taking a 3 hour hike on a new trail. Grand Canyon is too much for me. I would not consider parasailing or jumping out of planes or even scuba diving.But I get my jollies and stretch my boundaries by taking new art classes (!) reading books outside the normal genre I usually choose, and doing stuff in nature in places I have not been before. I recently am trying out tennis and improving all the time! I consider myself lucky that I am so easily amused!! I agree whole heartedly with going for challenge and change, but ti's a matter of degrees, it takes a LOT to stir up the hormones of some folks, and for some of us, a bit less! :-) It's all good!!!

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    1. My new Medicare Supplemental policy includes free gym membership which I am using 3-4 times a week. I am hoping it gives me more energy and flexibility so I can hike more often and maybe take a bike along with us on RV trips.

      I did my adventure stuff when I was younger, like scuba shipwreck diving in Bermuda. Now, I am very content to keep body parts moving for less strenuous stuff.

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  6. Ah! The perfect birthday gift for my 67 yo sailor hubby.

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