In the field of positive psychology, they like to use the word flow.
Flow is about finding an ideal state of mind, a place where everything else in life disappears, and all that matters is the moment you’re experiencing. For many people, it’s a headspace to pursue with abandon.
Kyra Goldsmith, a New York City-based IT analyst, spends her waking hours daydreaming. When she’s not at work—or even sometimes when she is—her mind is on the ocean, where she spends every weekend sailing with Team Q, the team she co-manages with her husband. Based out of the Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay, NY, the team sails a variety of boats and participates in regattas year-round.
“There’s a saying about sailors who have day jobs,” Goldsmith says. “You’re sailing your cubicle five times a week.” And her teammates share this outlook too. “When you’re on a boat you wouldn’t talk about your job, it would be silly, and nobody would care,” she says. “Everyone just cares about the sail. Can we work well together? Can you trust these people? That’s all that matters on the water.”
Goldsmith found sailing the way many of us find yoga or other athletic hobbies: She took a college class called “Learn to Sail,” of all things, but Goldsmith had such an affinity for the sport that after seeing her talent, coaches immediately offered her a spot on the varsity sailing team. Senior year, Goldsmith was awarded Best Female Athlete.
Now, years later, she sails every chance she gets.
There are moments that Goldsmith will never forget, like a race from Newport, Rhode Island to Bermuda, where the stars seemed to envelop her in the middle of the night, and she sailed alongside dolphins and whales in bioluminescent waters.
Then there are also moments of extreme power—both in nature and in the boat’s capabilities—which Goldsmith counts among her most thrilling, like the torrential rains she encountered in one of her very first races. She found herself on deck, one of only three people above deck. “I just remember being like, oh, here comes another squall,” she said, laughing. “It was such intense rain and lightning, and I would see these waves and yell out that it was coming in 10 seconds! And countdown 10-9-8, you know, waiting for it to hit us.”
It’s times like these that the most passionate sailors stand out from the easygoing pleasure-seekers, when the people who are in it for the passion and sense of connection with the elements and each other really find their flow. Goldsmith remembers the moment as “the thrill of a lifetime.”
Flow is not necessarily so adrenaline fueled, however, and certainly can be found in a more peaceful variety. Jon Mirkin, a real estate developer based in Los Angeles, has also experienced the thrill of a lifetime, albeit with fewer squalls. An avid golfer, but “not a great one,” Mirkin admits, “by any means,” he vividly remembers the day he hit his first, and only, hole-in-one, a goal he’d been chasing for his entire golfing career—but, given its extremely low likelihood, had had minimal expectations of achieving.
It was a Friday in spring, early in the season. Mirkin and his friends had snuck out of work early to play at one of the oldest courses in Chicago, and they had sprung for caddies, a rare luxury.
“It was truly a beautiful day, the sun was setting, summer was around the corner,” Mirkin remembers. “And then it just happened.” Mirkin connected with his wedge and sent the ball through the air, landing it about four feet from the pin. The ball bounced a few times and then just… dropped in.
“We could see it from the tee, there was no question I’d hit a hole in one,” Mirkin said, more animated now. “All the guys go crazy, I think I dropped to my knees and just screamed to the sky.”
For Goldsmith and Mirkin, it’s those exhilarating moments on the water or the golf course that keep each of them returning to their respective passions again and again.
“When you’re sailing, there’s no time to think of anything else, all you’re doing is focusing on preparing for the next move,” she said. “Nothing matters other than what’s happening on the boat. And if you’re thinking of something else,” she pauses for a moment, “you can’t.”
This article was produced on behalf of Lincoln Motor Company by Quartz creative services and not by the Quartz editorial staff.