Please select your home edition
Edition
Vaikobi 2019AUG - Leaderboard 2

Embracing 2020 and pondering ways to make it a happier and more peaceful year

by David Schmidt 31 Dec 2019 08:00 PST December 31, 2019
Puget Sound on a rare sunny winter morning, as seen from Sunset Hill Park © Coreen Schmidt

The start of a new year can be defined in a lot of ways. As an elementary-school student, I was always a bit puzzled by the discrepancy between the adult-world calendar and that of the school year. Granted, I was especially fixated on June's arrival (read: the end of regular school and the start of junior sailing lessons) as the end of one year, while September spelled the start of a new year at school, but I couldn't help noticing that my parents looked to January 1 as the start of their next year.

While it's easy to chalk this innocence up as the byproduct of believing that one is entitled to a three-month summer hiatus to sail and generally mess around in boats with one's friends, it's also easy to ponder the end of the year in different, albeit also-adult, ways.

For example, growing up in Connecticut meant that boating was an activity that was defined by the seasons. In May and June, boats repopulated harbors and anchorages, while November's arrival spelled a return to the hard, at least until spring.

My internal calendar was spun again when my wife and I moved from Boston, Massachusetts, where she was a graduate student and where I was a desk editor at a sailing magazine, to our present home in Seattle. I quickly learned that summertime might spell blue skies and dry weather in the Pacific Northwest, but it also typically spells the arrival of big, wind-robbing high-pressure systems. Stranger still, Seattle's big-boat racing calendar generally focuses on the dark and rainy months, as these tend to include the most important ingredient for sailboat racing.

(Even more disorientating was moving to a place with mountains and bodies of water in almost all directions, but we'll save that as fodder for a different conversation.)

And then there's the temptation to mark the years by ski seasons, which further flings any sense of New Year's orientation out the window, but along the way I realized a lesson that I suspect most people already know. Namely, that it's irrelevant what day (or days) marks the end of the old and the start of the new.

Instead, what matters most involves taking a moment or two out of our busy lives to contemplate and appreciate all that unfurled in the last year (however that's defined), ponder what could have gone better, and formulate a game plan for how to do a little bit better next time.

So, as my years start to catch up with me, I've come to accept the intersection of December 31 and January 1 as the end of what's now old and the start of what's new. More importantly, I've also come to embrace this time of year as a chance to consider how to improve the things that are within my control to change, and to try and make peace with macro-level situations that must be left to another day to be rectified (say, Tuesday, November 3, 2020).

As a long-time dog owner, I've also come to appreciate the old saw about old hounds and new tricks, and I often feel the settling of sand within my own hourglass each December as I draft my New Year's resolutions, as they haven't evolved much in almost a decade. They always start with a promise to sail more, log less screen time, get published in at least two new publications, and visit at least one new country, and they quickly progress to ways that I can use my writing skills and capable hands to help the environment and try and make this experiment called civilization at least a little bit more sustainable.

But, to prove to myself and to Sail-World's faithful readership that I haven't become a calcified dinosaur (yet), I've added a new resolution for 2020: Talk to as many people as possible across as many cultural, economic and political divides as possible, while keeping my ears open and my mouth respectfully shut. After all, while sailing might allow us to create crews comprised of friends of similar ilk and mindsets, the real world is far more complex, and an open ear and a kind smile are time-honored skeleton keys that might - just maybe - help restore the world to more civil times.

I'll spare everyone more e-soapbox preaching, but I encourage all readers to take a few quiet minutes and ponder what they can do a bit better in 2020, while also celebrating last year's successes.

True, this world is not without its problems, but as the great poet and sage Robert Hunter (a sad casualty of 2019, I'm afraid) prophetically penned, "once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right."

Sail-World wishes all readers a happy, healthy and successful New Year, and we look forward to seeing you out on the racecourse... hopefully a lot more frequently than we did in 2019.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt
Sail-World.com North American Editor

Related Articles

Previewing the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami
Latest Sail-World USA newsletter from David Schmidt While cold rain and snow might be the reality across most of North America, conditions are far more conducive to high-level sailing on the waters off of Miami, Florida, where the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami is unfurling. Posted on 21 Jan
Pulse58 from RS Electric Boats
See our video tour of the RIB at boot Dusseldorf Mark Jardine, Managing Editor of Sail-World.com and YachtsandYachting.com gives an overview of the Pulse58 - the first 100% electric RIB from RS Electric Boats, the sister company of RS Sailing. Posted on 21 Jan
Just how hard can it be?
You've won multiple World Championships, and not just in the one class... You've won multiple World Championships, and not just in the one class mind you. Try a very impressive three styles of boat. You even have the ultimate colour of Olympic bling in the trophy cabinet. Posted on 19 Jan
Erika Reineke on the 2020 World Cup Series Miami
An interview with Erika Reineke ahead of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami I checked in with Erika Reineke, who is one of the USA's top-ranked Laser Radial sailors, via email, to find out about her preparations ahead of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami. Posted on 16 Jan
Playing for keeps on Puget Sound
Man Overboard in the Duwamish Head Race off Seattle I knew I was in for an adventure when I woke up at 0430 hours on Saturday for the annual Duwamish Head Race, only to discover that NOAA had issued a small-craft advisory for the section of Puget Sound where our race would be unfurling. Posted on 14 Jan
That man Lilley
Latest Sail-World Australia newsletter from John Curnow When he won the medal race at the recent Finn Gold Cup, it was not some random event. Jake Lilley has been at it for a while. It's called work ethic... Posted on 12 Jan
Luther Carpenter on the World Cup Series Miami
An interview with Luther Carpenter ahead of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami I checked in with Luther Carpenter, US Sailing's recently named Olympic head coach, via email, to learn more about his challenges and preparations ahead of the 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami. Posted on 8 Jan
Looking ahead to two great retro sailing races
Golden Globe Race 2022 and the 2023 Ocean Globe Race 2020 may have only barely begun, but already entire groups of adventure-minded sailors are looking forward to 2022 and 2023, which is when the Golden Globe Race 2022 and the 2023 Ocean Globe Race are slated to begin. Posted on 7 Jan
Highs and Lows
They go together in a symbiotic circle to form our weather patterns They go together in a symbiotic circle to form our weather patterns. In life, they also seem to always be in close proximity to one another, as well. Normally, this is a truly a wonderful time of year in Australia. Posted on 5 Jan
Keiran Searle on the state of the Melges 20 class
An interview with Keiran Searle about the state of the Melges 20 class I checked in with Keiran Searle, who serves as the Melges 20 North American Class Manager, via email, to check in and learn more about the state of affairs in this popular One Design class. Posted on 2 Jan
iSails 2020 - Spinnaker Spring Discount - FOOTERGul 2019 Carrier FOOTERVaikobi 2019AUG - Footer 2