Jason Y. Wood's blog
When’s the last time you left your boating comfort zone? I’m talking about pushing yourself a bit beyond where you’ve been before. Perhaps it’s been a while. Maybe you have a good reason. (“We ended up there because I knew we could make it back for that meeting on Monday.”) Or perhaps you have some other excuse for staying close to home. (“That port engine acted up a few weeks ago, and we’re not quite sure we figured out why.”) And of course, that’s all okay.
We just found this glimpse of our beloved Sightlines columnist, yacht designer extraordinaire Michael Peters in cyberspace. And try as we might to keep him all to ourselves, we found out he was discovered by Cadillac. Peters was interviewed in a quick YouTube video program by Chris Hardwick, a comedian, actor, and host whom you may sort of recognize from some of his other jobs—anyway he clearly doesn't get out much.
A year ago I was a senior editor at this magazine and how times have changed for me. For one thing, my interactions with the boaters, boatbuilders, and other industry people who are our readers have increased exponentially, and I couldn’t be happier. I may have my radar turned way up, but I try to tune in to what each of them is saying when we talk or e-mail. Not just listening, of course, but also hearing the backstory. Those readers’ experiences inform what they’re telling me and give insight into their worldview.
There’s something special going on right now. Maybe you’re seeing it in your daily dose of business news, or getting the feeling when you set to work each morning. Somewhere along the way—don’t ask me where or when—we crossed a line back into the “can-do” way of thinking. It’s been a fairly long time coming.
While the Progressive New York Boat Show (running through January 5 at the Javits Center on the west side of Manhattan) may evade you due to geography or scheduling or a combination of both in conjunction with an overblown weather forecast, the show serves as a boating beacon hard by the wind-whipped Hudson River. And come they did, the show opened at noon on New Year’s Day and was packed all afternoon. I spoke to salesman who said they were excited to get 2014 started and it seemed there were plenty of serious buyers mixed into the crowd.
This time of year carries with it the reminder to help those less fortunate. So it was kind of a strange kickoff to the year’s last quarter to have the federal government shut down for a couple of weeks, essentially showing us all how not to behave. Nothing has the potential to derail a good economic recovery like the background noise and uncertainty of a legislative snafu.
I guess I’ve always held boat shows in a kind of grass-is-always-greener regard, but in a decidedly healthy way. Regular boaters—that is, people who don’t work in the marine industry—get to go to boat shows exclusively for fun. Sure there are boat-buying decisions to be considered, now or in the future. But I sometimes envy their freedom (and the anonymity of not wearing a name tag), as they compare the latest models, running their hands over sleek fiberglass surfaces and oiled-teak covering boards.
I don’t know how much anyone still studies classical mythology, but some of those timeless tales have stuck with me. As I’ve grown older, and I’d like to think wiser, the meanings of the stories I remember have changed and evolved. One in particular is the story of the birth of the Roman goddess Minerva—known to the Greeks as Athena—who sprang from the head of her father, Jupiter (Zeus), fully formed as an adult. Now if that’s not a metaphor for an idea, if a clunky one, then I’ll eat my hat.
“The worst of all things is not to live in a physical world.” —Wallace Stevens
I first encountered the quote above as an epigraph to Just Before Dark, a great book of nonfiction by poet, writer, and self-effacing tarpon fisherman Jim Harrison that touches on eating, fishing and hunting, and writing. That book has regularly found its way into my travel bag, serving to help recharge my batteries in ways that e-mail and cellular phone calls just don’t.