Matt learns how to sail (and why it’s great to learn)

We just posted a new Youtube video.  This one is a little different.

It’s about Matt’s week in Antigua learning how to sail for the first time.  But it’s also about learning itself and why sometimes tough learning can be better than easy leisure.

Read the text of what Matt wrote for the video  . . . or just watch the video.  And, please don’t forget to subscribe to our Youtube channel!

When I was in school we were taught that we are born with all the brain cells they will ever have.  We’re born with a lot of them, but as the years go by they die off. Relentlessly.

I found this information depressing.  I really didn’t like the idea of inevitable deterioration.

Fortunately, it’s wrong.  Now we know that our brains have the ability not just to grow more neurons but even more importantly to form new connections between them.  

This is called plasticity.  And it happens when you learn.

There is now clear evidence to show that if the human brain is exposed to a new experience, that effort is made to learn and you stick with it long enough that the learning is successful, our brains actually change and grow.

For example, MRI studies of taxi drivers in London England show that a part of their brain called the hippocampus is significantly larger than average.  This is a part of the brain responsible for spatial navigation and actually grows in response to learning the intricate streets and lanes of London’s core.

So our brains are like our muscles.  They get strong and supple with exercise – and the workouts are new learning experiences.

Of course, not everyone takes advantage of this ability.  A lot of people prefer to coast through life, only learning when they have to at school or a new job.

But I’ve never been one of those people.  I have this strange belief that if there is some knowledge or skill I want or need, I can learn it.  Along the way I might stumble and fall, but I am addicted – learning new things is my drug of choice.  In fact, I would say it is one of my core values.

So, in planning for our big family adventure, when we found so many couples and families sailing around the world, we started falling in love with the idea of sailing as a family ourselves.  The fact that we had never even set foot on a sailboat was not a barrier but a challenge.

It was time to learn how to sail.

So, this video is of my week in Antigua with my friend and amazing human being, Matt.  This is us having fun exploring this little Caribbean island and learning how to sail.


Shortly after that scene, our course was over.  Matt and I passed our course, but more importantly we enjoyed a week of learning, adventure,  and building friendships.

Why take on something as big a learning how to sail?  Why not just take a week on the beach? Relax.

When you take on a challenge like this there is always the risk of failure.  But there’s an even greater chance that success will come packaged with a handful of other benefits.  

I learned far more about sailing than I thought I would.  I met some amazing people and made some lasting friendships.  Phil’s style of teaching and personality made him an incredible role-model as a captain.  Matt and I had so many opportunities to dive deep into conversations we otherwise wouldn’t have had time for.  The list goes on . . .

Now I am excited about sailing.  I will certainly need more experience than just one week, but the possibility that we will be able to sail as a family is no longer a pipe dream.  It’s a real possibility.


    1. Hey there, Jemma. Wish I could say I miss the ER but . . . you know that story. On a brighter note, in terms of videos, stay posted – we just left Canada yesterday! We are all sleep deprived and excited to be in Iceland for our first stop. Stay tuned 🙂

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