(Excerpt from a speech by Yves Gélinas given April 17 1985, at a meeting of school directors)
You have asked me to talk about the values I have discovered during this 282-day single-handed voyage. I spent some time asking myself what I could tell you : I did not have any visions…
I had a lot of time to meditate – the phone did not ring often – but I must say I haven’t had any great revelations, I did not experience nirvana or samadhi.
Yet I have known many moments of total contentment : ends of days when the sun dove into the sea splashing half the sky with warm light..
The trade wind caressing naked skin (it is almost as good as if it came from a loved one)…
The simple pleasure of watching the bow of my boat slice through the surface of the sea, pushed, but also guided by an invisible force : the magic of the wind…
Or spending hours watching an albatross. These birds use the wind thousands of times better than our sailboats : you never see their wings flap; only the tip moves, like a rudder. They glide for days and days. When it is calm, they land on the surface and wait for the wind…
I could go on evoking moments when for nothing in the world I would have given my place, but it would be beside the subject: those moments, even if they have considerable value, are not discoveries. I have to look elsewhere.
On the intellectual level ? In nine months of solitude, I could have had the time to construct a nice theory that I could now serve you from my recent Honorary Doctorate.
But search as I might, I found no syllogism, no demonstration. I can only prove that the Earth is round, but I am afraid I am not the first.
Yet I can give this advice : if you want to make a beautiful voyage, do not forget your Magick-Byrd. I took one with me around the world : it worked beyond my expectations.
Inside the cabin of Jean-du-Sud, suspended by a thread from the handrail, is a little bird woven from a palm of Magick coconut. More precisely, a Magick-Byrd, Special Model for Bluewater Sailing. After seven years of common life and one circumnavigation, I had so many occasions of marveling about its exploits that I would part with it for nothing in the world.
Since you are all nice people, I will reveal how it works and attains its full Magick Power.
There are two essential conditions to the good performance of a Magick-Byrd : first you do your best, from the highest level of your consciousness; second you surrender to this greater force.
Beware : if you worry about the result of your action, you are no longer surrendering, you are no longer at the highest level of your consciousness , you are no longer here and now and you lose all contact with the Magick Power.
The trap is cleverly set and I fell blindly into it. When I think about it, I have goose bumps. I almost couldn’t set sail. I’ll tell you how it happened:
If I made the attempt to make my mind quiet and make a judgment from the highest level of my consciousness, I still had this imperious desire to take off on the sea, for a long period. So every morning, I would ask myself this question: what can I do to-day most effective to make this happen? And I would try my best to do it, with detachment and abandon.
After two years of preparation in Plouër, France, I had done all I could do without funds. So I flew back to Montreal and tried to raise some money. I spent six months at this and did not have the impression of having made any progress. As time flew, I became more nervous and impatient: In order to take advantage of the most favorable seasons, I had planned to leave three months later and still had a great deal of work to do in France on Jean-du-Sud. I was so tense that I got a stiff neck.
This made me think. I realized that I was no longer detached: I wanted to leave. I saw that I had to change my attitude and come back to this state of surrender.
The next morning, I found the $20 000 I needed to get going, as if by Magick.
And the Magick-Byrd got his message across even before I left: “Do your share as best you can, the rest is not your problem.”
In order to avoid worrying about what I could expect in the Roaring Forties or at Cape Horn, I took for granted that the Magick-Byrd was coherent: if He made me leave, it was not to get me lost later on.
Obviously, I had to trust my boat. I knew that I could not rely on its size: Jean-du-Sud would be the smallest boat to attempt this route. I could rely only on its strength.
I realized right away that if I consciously neglected the smallest detail, I could never live in the here and now. I had to be sure of the strength of the mast, of the rigging, the portholes, sure I had neglected nothing, however small the detail. Otherwise it would be assured anguish: I would keep telling myself: “I should have…”
But aiming for impeccability is like traveling under sail: you move towards a destination, but you are never sure you will get there. Jean-du-Sud was capsized by a sea and came back up without its mast. I had underestimated the load imposed on the bolts fastening the lower shroud chainplates and they snapped. It was entirely my fault, but I was sincere and that time, the Magick-Byrd did not hold it against me.
Between the understanding of a concept and its incarnation in daily life, the going is sometimes rough and often upwind.
I undertook this voyage in order to attain a greater measure of inner peace. I thought that I would arrive at it mostly through meditation and reading. I had taken along an important documentation on spirituality. What I learned most important is that knowledge has no value if it does not go beyond the mental level and is not accompanied by an effort to transform daily life. After reading a few books, I did not pursue my study: I had seen that the essential is not about learning, but rather about becoming; and I already knew enough to keep me busy through a few circumnavigations.
So I put my serious books away and I made an effort to sail my boat as best I could, with trust and abandon.
* * *
I also experienced a new dimension of love.
Discussing love during a single-handed circumnavigation may seem paradoxical, I admit. And I do not mean a platonic and disembodied sentiment. I mean this very concrete rush of warmth one feels inside the heart and that one may have discovered while giving a girl her first kiss of love…
This rush of warmth that is experienced only too rarely: when pressing yourself against the woman of your life, or holding the hand of your child: you burst with energy, you could lift the whole world!
This flame of love that lifts the world can be felt thousands of miles from any human being: all you have to do is get your mind quiet, concentrate in the region of the heart and you will feel it ignite, almost imperceptible.
By making the effort of keeping it alive with perseverance, I dare say with love, it grows more concrete and eventually warms up your whole life.
Between love and reason, those two forces that made us evolve, we have preferred reason. We use reason to define ourselves: Homo Sapiens Sapiens. Our reason led us to nuclear power and the planet owes its survival to the Balance of Power and Mutual Assured Deterrence! If this balance of power is ever broken, it will be an other effect of reason.
What could Homo Sapiens Amans achieve? A being who would no longer define himself by reason, but by love? A being who would listen to reason, of course, but would first listen to his heart?
* * *
As I conclude this talk on the values I discovered during this long voyage, I notice that I talked about three things.
The need to surrender to a greater force and maintain an impeccable attitude (those are the two conditions essential to the operation of the Magick-Bird). In other terms, Faith and Hope
And finally, Love.
I have heard this before.