When you are using the wind to propel your sailboat at its maximum efficiency, smoke from a cigarette lingers just like it would over a game of eight ball on a slow night at the pool table. The waves and the boat are being driven in the same direction so there is little contrary influence from the sea as well. We were on just such a tack westward outside the barrier islands off the coast of Mississippi running before a ten knot breeze at sundown at full moon with fog settling in.
Hunches, urges and involuntary reactions are small glimpses into an ancient wisdom coalesced in the genetic make-up of living entities that is eternally present for consultation with an undistracted consciousness. While that timeless wisdom makes symbiosis with nature more a pleasant remembering than a mental exercise in alien problem solving, it is virtually useless in navigating through the arbitrary claptrap of civilization much less being unwilling to shout over the endless cacophony of its factories and the accounting office into which the modern brain has evolved. Meditation deep enough long enough can bring genetic memory home for tea and a chat. It is a dawning worth not waiting for.
Such a dawning as was happening had never been waited for by any of us as the last rays of sunlight coaxed the last reply of coral from the western atmosphere. No sooner than we'd become accustomed to the dark of the unlit, fog shrouded night when a silver iridescence began to materialize as a ring four-fifths out of the water about a mile dead ahead. This, added to our silent ten knot clip moving the fog and us and the waves and the cigarette smoke, pretty much had everyone’s attention on a surreal level. No dialogue disturbed the frozen moment that stretched out until we realized that the ring had sunk into an arch and was moving toward us at a much slower rate than we were sailing through the water toward it. Only when the arch had reached and engulfed us could our eyes see the source of our glorious mystery as we looked up into the brilliance of the full moon which had been rising behind us since the west covered the sun. As we continued westward the silver iridescent ring rose back out of the water as it retreated slower than we were leaving it behind until the western horizon swallowed the moon, that reflection of the sun now burning away the fog to reveal that we had been guided between two of the islands and were sailing along the intercoastal waterway without consulting chart, compass or anything less spontaneous than a moon bow.
It is only when tacking off a run before the wind that any indication of the dynamic forces of nature seem at odds with the tranquility of going with the natural direction of the wind. A modern sailboat can turn around and sail within 17° of directly into the wind, appropriately termed "beating into the wind," straining the rigging, mast, sail and helmsman to the max. Sailing is much like life in that harmony with nature yields the most tranquil passage and the more one attempts to exploit nature by perverting its ways to personal use the more labor is required to maintain the least tranquil passage.
For twelve hours, I and my companions remained entranced by flow of nature with no concept of exploitation and were gifted with an awe inspiring sample of its eternal, infinite beauty in silent, spontaneous meditation. None of us were ever the same again.