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Stories: Leisure and Recreation

An Interview with Kay Wild

Kay Wild worked in New York City. One weekend she was invited on a sail to Newport, Rhode Island to celebrate her birthday. When fog set in, stranding them in harbor on the first day, Collective Resonance emerged to take the place of the planned sail, changing Kay’s life forever. In this interview with Renee Levi, Kay shares these magical days.

RL: Kay, please tell me all about your experience of Collective Resonance.

KW: It began with a good friend calling and inviting me on a weekend sail to Newport for my birthday. I love sailing, and I hadn’t sailed since I came to the east coast. Water is very special to me, and I was just thrilled that we might be able to be on the water for my birthday.

So the weekend arrives and we get up to the boat, whose owner, Paul, is a friend of Natalie’s. I didn’t know Paul at all, but he always welcomes people who want to sail. We are on the boat, settling in and putting the provisions away. As the sun is setting, we cook dinner and hang out on deck.

RL: What happens?

KW: Well for some, being on water is uncomfortable, but for others, I think there’s a rhythm that starts to take over. There’s an intimacy that starts to develop. You’re in a small cabin, afloat. You’re an entity, a whole.

There’s a teamwork that has to happen, a flow, whether it’s passing the salt, or can you grab the rig, or will you do the docking line? Everything flows if you’re comfortable on a boat, and all three of us were. So all of a sudden, you have a rhythm, which is good to have on Friday night, and is a good omen for the weekend. So we talk and continue to talk. And talk and giggle and talk…….. we just had a wonderful evening. The weather for the next day wasn’t supposed to be good, but Paul said he’d get us off no matter what. Well, we wake up the next morning and we are so fogged in that you literally couldn't see the boat on the next mooring. So here we were, stuck in harbor for the day! There's nothing to do except sit on the boat and amuse ourselves.

We’re up and into the morning routine, and everybody's in a rhythm and good mood. And since we now cannot see a thing, we are totally embodied in our own world.

RL: So you were very literally encased?

KW: Encased, embodied, enveloped and held. We're up on deck drinking coffee and it’s bright, but you can't see blue sky. You can't see anything, except a wall of fog.

So we sat and bounced on the mooring for the entire day. We started telling stories - troubles we’d gotten into, relationships we’d had, travels and sailing adventures, whatever. We’re now telling stories that you would normally not get to in a two-hour conversation at dinner.

And you're on this boat and you're just bouncing and laughing and everything has its own flow. The three of us are at a point where we're so comfortable with each other that we can laugh at each others’ ugly foot or make fun of our own toes. We're all middle-aged, so it's not like we're profiling – in fact we definitely are not profiling. We’re just hanging in time … just being really who we are ….. our essence, full of spirit and very present..

We all had the same sense of humor and laughed at the same things. That doesn't always happen. And there's no judgment going on. You've been released in this capsule of fog to be really who you are, the essence of who you are; and the delight-filled you…the child. We were like three kids enjoying spontaneity and playfulness.

And we laughed until our sides ached, literally. By the end of the weekend, my ribs were so sore from laughing! I hadn't laughed like that in the thirteen years I’d lived on the east coast. It was a release that I can only say was like I had had some body work that released blocks I had no idea were so tight. I found the east coast to be tight and rigid; not a lot of freedom to really play. But now I was transported back in time to being free on a sailboat and, to me, a sailboat is freedom and rhythm. It's like flying, like a bird.

Since it was still foggy by late afternoon, we all went ashore, showered, and jumped in the car and drove to Newport where we celebrated my birthday at the yacht club. We had a wonderful time and drove back to the boat.

RL: I'm curious why you sat there all day instead of driving somewhere earlier.

KW: Well, it never occurred to us. Why would we move from the place we wanted to be? We were delighted to be on the water and I actually think we suspended time. It was never the destination, it was the journey.

RL: So, I'm imagining this scene. I'm imagining that's really when you felt the Collective Resonance happening.

KW: Yes.

RL: With the fog around you, bouncing. One body, laughing, kind of encased…one entity.

KW: Yes.

RL: Can you describe to me a little further how it felt for you physically or energetically? What got activated? And possibly, if you can identify it, where in your body did you feel it?

KW: I can describe a few different things. A boat takes me to my own rhythm. So once I find my own rhythm, I'm not running on stress, imposed energies or schedules; anything that’s not my natural rhythm.

KW: The boat, I think, brings me to my own harmonics. Once I reach that, my body opens up and it's more like a flower. I start to smell, hear, see, feel, and taste the world. At that point, then, I can start to play, which is not necessarily always easy for me. I can stay in a pattern that sometimes is hard to break. The boat relaxes that and then, once my senses are activated, I am very free to experience whatever is available and be present.

Now this particular experience was so human, and it was so full of the delicacies of life seen through the lens of humor, that I was able to release into the human experience, and go to the joy of living. And this one was monumental because I was experiencing it with other people. I usually have that experience in a more solitary way, like at museums or in a sacred space. I can stand in front of a piece of art and breathe in that release. I have access to that on a personal level. That's how I normally have done it. I also access through music or through color; in many ways really. Art and nature have been the two easiest ways of access that I depend on.

But in this particular experience, I had nature and the human experience of relationships. I think that in the sharing we actually also created. There was a shared experience of our individual selves that created an awareness of a presence that was so real.

RL: So you really feel that because it was collective, because it was more than one or two people, that the experience was heightened?

KW: I do. I can only say that through the mixture of these two other people’s uniqueness we found the similar, and it was the human fragility of life. We could laugh at ourselves and our ridiculousness.

We really just told stories. We told funny stories that were life history. We sang together. Paul shared limericks. They are the funniest things in the world! I’d never really heard one but Paul knew many by heart. There was a lot of sharing of cultures, too. I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. It just happens. It resonated individually with all three of us – independently – but it had a life of its own that continued on.

RL: Do you remember when it shifted, Kay? Do you remember specific things that happened that shifted your sense of yourselves from three individuals into a unit?

KW: It shifted into a kind of formation, oddly enough, within the first two hours we were together. But it wasn’t only a connection between two or three people, it was more of a frame. The framework was put there in the first two hours. It was filled in that day, sitting on the top of the boat. And at that moment, I would say we moved as one. So, when we got in the dinghy to go to dinner, we were just one…for the rest of the weekend. Once we had spent that many hours on the deck, telling stories, laughing, sharing those things, we pretty much were as one. It became a package - a package of joy - once you laugh together like that, at that level.

RL: So you think it was the laughing that helped to shift you?

KW: I think the boat created the environment because all three of us are water people and water is a leveler of metabolisms. And then the laughter layered on top released more blocks. We all have blocks in our bodies, but once you jiggle it that hard, you’re letting things out that you couldn’t possibly have done yourself.

RL: Kay, it sounds to me like both of these things, the movement of the boat, causing the body to move, and the laughter, also causing the body to move, have to do with actually – literally - shaking up the physical body, right?

KW: Yes.

RL: And the stories… All these are shifting points, shifting things, right? It sounds like both of these things helped loosen the boundaries between you.

KW: That’s right.

RL: Physical loosening with laughter and the boat’s rhythm, and some emotional or psychological loosening because you’re sharing personal stories. It feels to me like there was a kind of taking down of that outer structure that we keep up, that keeps us separate from other people.

KW: That's exactly what it is, Renee. It releases your armor. I always say that when I put on a suit to go to work, I'm putting on my armor. Being on a boat, you release your armor, you shed layers. But this wasn't one layer that came off, this was probably three or four layers that came off over those 48 hours. It let me get to a place where I was child-like and hopeful about the future, and appreciating friends for who they are. And appreciating nature, because nature's given you this beautiful scene, and for the fog that held us and cradled us before it finally lifted.

RL: That's so fascinating to me. The way you describe the fog feels like it was a container, almost like it was so close around the boat that it contained the three of you. Do you think the fog itself had a role in allowing you, individually, to let your boundaries down because you were contained within a larger boundary right then?

KW: Yes, I think it definitely did. When the fog is in that close, it kind of limits some senses. You can’t see anything. You can sometimes hear little boats going by, but you couldn’t see them. You only have each other.

RL: Fascinating.

KW: And it felt comfortable, it didn't feel penned in. You had to get comfortable with the fog and the reality that you weren't going anywhere. And occasionally the fog would lift a little bit and you'd be able to see a glimpse of something, maybe over on land, but then the fog would return and you were surrounded again.

There was an intimacy that was not confining, and there was expansion because you'd now taken the boundaries out. You'd just moved – you’ve moved the energy that you create between you so that it's actually bigger. You're not a single person on a boat sitting over here, you've created - we created – a center, an energetic center.

And then it rises and you see the rest of the world and then you have to integrate. This is the interesting thing because when the fog finally lifts for good and the sun comes out, you’re released from this little world. Now you have to talk about going back to your normal world. It was a huge reality check. Now we’re all going back and, well, what do you do on Monday? It was kind of like, well, I know what we have shared together, but who are we when we all leave to go home again?

We made some plans, like, well, I will probably have pictures, so I'll make sure that we all get together and see the pictures. And there will be such-and-such; a party we’re all invited to at Natalie’s. So it was kind of one of those things. When we came off the boat we were a unit and then we weren’t a unit anymore. We were not a unit, we were individuals. So you had to actually figure out if you were a unit or what kind of unit or what part of a unit you were. And how were you going to recreate for yourself what we shared , which was unbelievable fun. We had had such a wonderful time. This was not something you wanted to give up, even though you didn't know what that meant.

RL: You just didn’t want to leave the experience of being free..…

KW: And when we did see each other again, in our business suits, we didn’t actually know who the other person was during their “real” life. We knew who we were during our fun-filled, joyful weekend. But what we really knew was the real person. So whoever dressed up on Monday morning was only a part of that person..

RL: So it sounds like the question is who really is the “real” person?

KW: Yes. I knew who I really was, but you don’t normally have a place to experience it, it’s buried so deep.

RL: So, you knew the essence of that real person in yourself?

KW: I certainly had not been in touch with it for over a decade. I did know that person, but when I had known that person, I wasn't very formed, I was much younger. So this was me as an adult making contact with me as a child, with my inner child, so to speak.

RL: Isn't that amazing?

KW: Yeah.

RL: That's huge.

KW: It was life-changing for me.

RL: This is far more than I thought it was.

KW: Oh, really?

RL: Well, yes, because I thought it was about the resonance between the three of you on the boat but what you just said to me feels even more powerful. It’s about reconnecting with self which is, to me, the ultimate journey.

KW: It changed my life.

RL: Individually and together?

KW: Yes. That time together was very deep and true and authentic and because you touch a piece of authenticity in yourself and you say, oh, my God, then you have to look at what you have apparently been valuing, or at least giving airtime to. You have to now start to figure out what your true value system is. Mostly it’s about being honest with yourself about who you are…and who you aren’t. That, then, activates your value system.

At the time I was working in New York, For me, my sense of true beauty was something I had developed in childhood, most of it coming from nature. And I hadn’t realized how the landscape had shaped my vision of beauty. The first opportunity to express beauty, as a young woman from the Midwest was to express my own personal style. I developed a sense of style that people appreciated and that brought me to New York.

So what happened after the weekend on the boat was that I realized I didn't have to be what my work symbolized. I wanted to be who I am and be appreciated for that. So my intention was different and I was now living my truth.

So once you’re living your truth, you don’t go to work to be satisfied in the same way . And even though I continued to work it was with a different intention. I didn’t need that work to fill my life in the same way.

RL: I understand. It wasn’t that important. You had your identity, or you reclaimed it, and that made you happy.

KW: Now my work was a good livelihood but not my identity. When you’re given a surprise gift like the time on the boat that is refreshing and helps you remember, you’re also given a certain problem to solve. So I had to figure out how to reframe beauty for myself …

RL: Kay, in addition to feeling a deeper connection with yourself and to the group, did you experience a connection with something larger?

KW: Oh yes! It felt like access to the universe, to faith, to the Great Spirit…..an elevation. Grace and joy.

RL: You felt that presence on the boat with you?

KW: It’s a resonance. It’s strictly a resonance in which you are connected to the universe and Great Spirit …………..you are one. Yes, I completely felt that. I think almost everything I have said really refers to spirit. Actually, it’s the mystery in beauty and nature that is a direct path to God for me. It’s the yellow brick road…straight up.

RL: Kay, what are you feeling right now?

KW: Oh, I’m very in touch with the daily gift. And I feel fortunate, very fortunate.

Epilogue: Kay started her own company based on beauty of a different kind. She designs environments and implements exhibitions and educational programs that encourage insights for personal, organizational, and community growth, enhancing the organization’s shared vision.

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