Just Showing Up

Wednesday August 18, 2021

They say that 99% of success is just showing up, and I saw an example of that this week.

Last week at the coast was Regatta week, a week of dinghy racing and parties. This is not Cowes, or anything fancy, I hasten to add. While the sailing club has produced several Olympians over the years, everything is still very basic and down to earth. Nobody is posh, and glamorous yachts are notable by their absence. Nevertheless, sailors from all over the country turn up: partly because the course is challenging and partly for the social life.

During the day, the estuary is alive with boats of all sizes; from the three-man skiff with its narwhal nose, cutting through the water like a torpedo, to the tiny, coracle-type Optimists, crewed by the youngest of the cadets. By night, the sailing club is a hive of music and dancing.

My younger daughter does not have a competitive bone in her body and sails contentedly around the bay with the other non-competitors. My elder daughter, however, likes to race. And they both love the parties!

There was little chance of winning her class, but my daughter duly entered the Slow Handicap with her Topper. The Topper is the moped of the sailing world. It has a single sail the size of a pocket handkerchief and is usually sailed by teenagers. At nineteen, my daughter is really too old for it; at barely nudging five feet and weighing a mere 100lbs soaking wet, she is exactly the right size.

Surprisingly, she came home with two bits of silver. She not only won her class but was the highest placed “Lady Helm.”

To begin with, she felt like a total fraud. You see, there were only two competitors in her class (this is unusual: there are normally around twenty) but the other boat – faster and with better sailors – was disqualified in the first race and did not compete in the next two. This meant she won three out of her four races. All the older and more experienced sailors, however, reassured her. They told her that one of the most difficult things to do is to sail doggedly alone, around a challenging course, with every other boat – in the fast handicap – flying past you. They told her she had courage and determination; that they admired her and that she deserves her name on that silver.

Sometimes, it takes everything we have just to get up, get dressed and face the day. We must grit our teeth to get on with life and meet our commitments. And yes, there are times when we must accept that we’re too ill and just can’t.

There is rarely a trophy for turning up, and mostly we don’t get the praise and recognition we deserve. There is a certain satisfaction, however, in getting through another day without giving in. When you’re living with depression, every day is a victory.

Turning up is not always rewarded, of course: we also came home with covid. Life isn’t all a triumph.

A Moodscope member.

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