Mind over Water: Lessons on Life from the Art of Rowing Paperback – 31 Dec 2003
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"Lambert has finished the course well in Mind Over Water, which has the same attributes as the rowing he adores: precision, grace, and total immersion." Boston Globe"A staff writer and editor for Harvard Magazine tells how sculling became a path to personal growth and how 'lessons learned afloat carry over onto dry land.' The result is a 'thoughtful, lovingly drawn meditation, ' Caroline Knapp wrote here last year. 'The river becomes a character in its own right, something to dip into for a time, something transporting.'" The New York Times
In an exploration of the sport, the author reflects upon the metaphysical voyage into the soul.See all Product description
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To be honest I was disappointed, it feels like a series of rather desperate attempts to link the world of rowing with every day philosophy and life problems, a concept which sounds interesting, but turns out to be rather monotonous and repetitive. That said given the title I should have probably expected it!
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There is unquestionably something elegant and poetic about the sport, captured since the 19th century in the paintings of Thomas Eakins and observed by most anyone who has watched crews, doubles and single sculls emerging from the morning mists of the Charles River. To dress this up with vague references to eastern religion, and the alleged words of an imaginary Yahqui shaman undermines Lamberts serious purpose. This said, the book offers direct observation of many of the critical years of the recent development of the sport in New England, and is worth reading if only for that reason. It is a sport with much quiet beauty and few have written, not just about the method of rowing, but the context of the community of rowers. The silent company of these people is one of the principle reasons to row. And this Lambert captures nicely.
"Mind over Water" is about rowing internalized, what it means to row and race and how these lessons can be applied to life. As such, its primary goal is not so much instruction as translation. And translations, of course, are never exact, which may account for some of the animosity of other reviewers.
So what is "Mind Over Water" really about? It's not so much about rowing as it is about what rowing means to the author. As such, you can't really fault it for not being the book you might write about rowing or for not being an instruction manual. It has humbler ambitions. Think of it as an off-water musing.
In any case, I liked it. And, yes, I had to get to get out the highlighter. Among those who like the book, everyone is going to have favorite passages, as some of these reviews attest. Here are some of mine:
"Edges form outlines. If our boundaries determine our identities, then we learn who we are by finding our limits."
"Sliding between dark and shadow, between sunlight and the obscure, is the region of discovery."
"Staying on course limits your attention to the boat and its rowers, who are, after all, the motor that takes you there. The goal does not disclose itself until it is attained."
"Mistakes shine a spotlight on our model of reality and show us its flaws. Unexpected outcomes help us refine our picture of nature."
"Tall smokestacks rise from the powerhouse and waft plumes of smoke into the sky, the epitaph of fuel burned into power."
If this kind of writing disturbs or bores you, look elsewhere. If not, you might find "Mind Over Water" as enjoyable as I did.
No, what I am is a rower of life, like everyone else. In this concise, elegant, and captivating book, Lambert explores his journey through rowing (from his youth through adulthood) and the challenges and lessons it taught him not only about life in the scull, but life out of the water too.
With truly guided tidbits of inspiration scattered through-out the book, Lambert shows us what matters in life: direction, effort, mindfulness, and practice.
In addition: even if you're not an avid rower, this book will educate you about the art and terminology of the sport. The lessons learned by Craig over the water are equally (if not more) valuable out on the land, in our every day lives, in sports and activities we do enjoy, as well as with work and relationships.
If you're a philosopher of any kind, get this book.