For three weeks the weather guesser when we could get it was reporting Gales to the north of us and strong wind warnings to the south. We tucked in and out, around and behind the weather usually finding idlyic sailing in the process. We were heading across the Straits Of Georgia and they had been throwing a tantrum for days. I pulled myself around Sookie in my dinghy inspecting each chain plate and all the lower terminals on the boat. When I was satisfied I announced that we would set sail in the morning. I’ll do anything to avoid sailing in heavy weather but when it catches me I become alive, a strange feeling of calmness, fear and excitement take over. These same characteristics are the what has gotten me through life virtually unscathed. I say virtually because lets be real no matter how well you stack your deck of cards there is always some fool blindly staggering through life who will bump your table and bring the whole house down. I can’t protect my table any more than I can control the weather, what I can do is build a strong foundation and keep pushing foreword.I screamed over the howling wind to Emily, now do know why I put so much love and attention into Sookie, tears were streaming from her eyes but thats her story not mine.
Its official I have an offer for a two year contact starting in January and all the fringe benefits that go along with it. Sure there is a bunch of mandatory hand shaking, grip and grin, BS dinners blah, blah, blah but if I want the false security its mine for the taking. My chest is constricted my heart hurts and that short two year contact feels like I’m selling my soul to the devil. Your money or your life, you can’t have both. At the age of 25 I couldn’t even comprehend the span of two years, I was a time millionaire. Now at the crusty age of 47 I measure and live my life in dog years and 14 years seems intolerable. In 2005 I was poised to retire a wealthy man, two years later I was living in my car. Two years later I was back on top, two years after that married to the right woman. Two years after that building our dream boat together and two years after that living alone on said boat and selling it. The whole world could end in two years…
I’m clairvoyant, but you already know that. I’m sensing you don’t believe me. While I can’t guarantee that I can tell you everything about your future I can tell you that time is running out and that no amount of money will buy you anymore. Sitting in complete and utter silence I watched the candles flicker on Sookies Butternut ceiling boards, tears running down my face. They weren’t tears of sadness, they were tears of sheer paralytic fear. At sea I don’t have time to be afraid but back here in the boatyard the damn is bursting. My tan bare feet are proof that I still can’t find my shoes or maybe on some level I’m not prepared to put them back on. Waiting for the train is one of my all-time favorite essays and I have to wonder if I’m on a train bound for nowhere.
My dream was never to circumnavigate although I’d like to. Its not to sail to the South Pacific although it would be nice. I love living aboard, even in winter no matter how much I bitch about the cold. I love sailing local and always having a plug to come back to. My dreams are simple and attainable which is why they all come to fruition. When people ask me what I would want If I could have anything in the world it all comes back to a solid foundation and I’m still working hard on it. Nothing worth doing in this world is worth doing alone.
I’ve got one foot on the platform, the other foot on the train. I’m heading back to New Orleans to wear that ball and chain. ~Ted Anthony
Heading towards the station …
Tucked away in our subconscious minds is an idyllic vision. We see ourselves on a long, long trip that almost spans the continent. We’re traveling by passenger train, and out the windows we drink in the passing scene of cars on nearby highways, of children waving at a crossing, of cattle grazing on a distant hillside, of smoke pouring from a power plant, of row upon row of corn and wheat, of flatlands and valleys, of mountains and rolling hills, of biting winter and blazing summer and cavorting spring and docile fall.
But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day at a certain hour we will pull into the station. There sill be bands playing, and flags waving. And once we get there so many wonderful dreams will come true. So many wishes will be fulfilled and so many pieces of our lives finally will be neatly fitted together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. How restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes for loitering … waiting, waiting, waiting, for the station.
However, sooner or later we must realize there is no one station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us.
“When we reach the station, that will be it !” we cry. Translated it means, “When I’m 18, that will be it ! When I buy a new 450 SL Mercedes Benz, that will be it ! When I put the last kid through college, that will be it ! When I have paid off the mortgage, that will be it ! When I win a promotion, that will be it ! When I reach the age of retirement, that will be it ! I shall live happily ever after !”
Unfortunately, once we get it, then it disappears. The station somehow hides itself at the end of an endless track. “Relish the moment” is a good motto, especially when coupled with Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. Rather, it is regret over yesterday or fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who would rob us of today.
So, stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream, go barefoot oftener, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets, laugh more and cry less. Life must be lived as we go along. The station will come soon enough.
~Found as published in Dear Abby, The Station, By Robert J. Hastings