It might be hard to see in this photo, so you'll have to take my word that that's me in the sailboat. I'm visiting Sydney, the city I was born and grew up in, and over the last two days I was learning to sail on the harbour here, something I've wanted to do for a long time.
It's not as simple as it looks. I spent most of day one capsizing, getting progressively more soaked, exhausted and bruised from trying to right the boat and dragging my overweight body back in to do it all again (who knew sailing is a contact sport?) But the next day, the tandem of the rudder and the sail started listening to me, and there were blissful moments of being carried on the wind.
Philosophising about it, building this sort of friendly relationship is like coming to terms with other forces and drives in life. Trying to impose your will, or giving up, you end up in the drink or the doldrums. The trick is to observe, find a balance and put in just the right amount of effort, no more, no less. I'm 46, and somehow I'm starting to get a handle on this.
Also, the older I get, the more I can't stand noise, and there are few better ways than sailing to find quiet.
Sydney Harbour is a pearl, an emerald green oasis of cooling breezes even on a 38 degree scorcher. Bejeweled with sandy beaches, like a small one we had lunch on yesterday, surrounded by eucalyptus, water the colour and temperature of chilled chardonnay (but salty as tears for someone used to the brackish Baltic), and yes, the pretty girls reclining on their afternoon off, creating the impression of having floated into Arcadia. Small wonder the aspirational Sydneysider's ultimate dream is a house anywhere near this water. Don't get me wrong, Sydney is a huge place with all the traffic, crowds and cost that entails. But its residents' greatest fortune is to have a place like this to forget about all that.