"Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." (Mark Twain)
As my father's life drew to a close early 2006, I took a sabbatical, that we might share precious time before his passing. This period crystallized the cliche "life is short". With both enthusiasm and trepidation, my father shared those aspects of life that he found most rewarding and most regretful. Though his life was full, he clearly then subscribed to Twain's prescription, albeit too late to effect an impact.
During this time and in retrospect thereafter, I've rekindled a long-held dream to see the world from the deck of a small boat; to find freedom, open air and adventure, and to find it on the sea. In the words of Henry David Thoreau: "The sail, the play of its pulse so like the fabric of our own lives: so thin and yet so full of life, so noiseless when it labors hardest, so noisy and impatient when least effective." In sailing through life, we all must take our turn at the helm... our time on watch. Yet, in then end, time for each of us stands still, as the sand chokes in the watch-glass.
We each must choose our own path through life. Do we follow the course laid out for us by others, or dare we chart our own destiny? Brainwashed by our economic system, we become entombed beneath a pyramid of time payments, mortgages, and preposterous gadgetry and playthings that divert our attention from the sheer idiocy of the charade.
The years thunder by. The dreams of youth grow dim where they lie, caked in dust on the shelves of patience. Before we know it, our tomb is sealed. For years we tuck away small treasures, so that in maturity we can have a few short years to enjoy the fruits of a lifetime of labors. But as the awaited time draws near, too many find that failure of health and mobility averts this dream from reality. Where, then lies the answer? In choice. Be it bankruptcy of purse, or bankruptcy of life? The loss of my father brought lucidity to my own decision. Go now, while still young and healthy enough to enjoy the adventure.
Do I hear you muttering "mid-life crisis"? Perhaps. But I'll not be one to allow life to get in the way of living, discovering too late that my dreams were more than simply visions in the night. My dream to sail the oceans was set in mind in the mid-60s. Some 40 years later, that dream remains alive, and it beckons to be followed.
Though once intending a circumnavigation, I'm no longer compelled to see the entire world pass beneath my hull. I go then, not to set records nor to chalk the mark, but because if I go not, I will always regret having not fulfilled the dream.