Friday, June 17, 2016

The Lone Sailor

The Lone Sailor. A statue on the shore of Lake Champlain.
The Lone Sailor is near to my ship and dear to my heart.

It is a statue on the Burlington waterfront that commemorates all who have gone, still go, and will go, to sea.

People ask me when and why I became a sailor. I tell them this:

We often attribute our early experiences to our eventual choices. For me, I remember feeling imbued with the romance of sailing when, as an adolescent, we spent vacations sailing with my uncle on Lake Constance. I used to tell people, “That is when I first became a sailor.”

But my brother found those times terribly boring. So, it wasn’t just the experience itself that made me a sailor and him not.

I’ve come to believe that we are who we are long before those early experiences. Rather than forming who we are, our early experiences echo our deepest selves. And once finding an echo, a resonating external experience, we become more fully ourselves.

The Lone Sailor is surrounded by plaques commemorating significant sea battles that took place on Lake Champlain and one of the plaques describes the statue itself. It ends with:

“The sailor never fully leaves the sea.”

The Lone Sailor and, in the background, my ship, the Friend Ship,
on which I take people out sailing on Lake Champlain
so that they might find resonance with something deep within themselves.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Of Dreams

A dreamy evening toward sunset on Lake Champlain.
Being captain of Whistling Man Schooner Co. is the fulfillment of a six-year-long vision. In 2010, I approached the then-owner of the operation to buy it. The timing wasn’t right for him, nor, as it turned out, for me. I first had to fulfill another dream: to sail my own ship across the Atlantic and all over the Mediterranean.

Upon my return, I was finally ready and the stars were aligned just right.

In some deeper ways than I ever knew, this is fulfilling not just a six-year vision, but an elusive dream that has been ghosting in my subconscious for longer than I can accurately tell you. Since my days in my 20s when I was deckhand on a windjammer in Maine? Since before then when my uncle taught me sailing on Lake Constance?

Today, I was doing chores on this boat, the Friend Ship. This boat which I am falling in love with. As I worked on the ship, young school kids were looking down from the bulkhead terrace.

“Is that yours?” asked one little girl, who, by now was all by herself. The others had gotten distracted and wandered off, but she remained.

“Yes, she’s my ship,” I said, and patted Friend Ship’s cabin house.

I could see it in her eyes. I’ve always been good at recognizing the dream as it shimmers in the eyes of brethren.

A boy walked up and pointed to a big, steel cruise ship behind me.

“Don’t you want THAT one?”

“No. I love my ship. She’s the best one for me.”

The boy walked away.

The girl remained with shimmering eyes. Maybe it was a trick of the sun reflecting in them, but it seemed one was glassier than the other.

“Will you sail away and live on her?” she asked.

“Maybe. Or maybe I’ll just keep sailing in and out of this harbor.”

A serious sounding voice toned in the background and the little girl automatically heeded the call and left.

These days, I take guests out on my ship for cruises on the lake. Besides offering them a pleasant time on my favorite body of water, and besides trying to get them to love Lake Champlain as much as I do and want them to care for all waters - every where - I am offering something more to those who join me: the chance to re-awaken their ability to dream.

Yesterday, a couple ended the cruise with me with the determination to buy a boat. “Thanks for giving us the courage to believe we can do it,” they said.

As I went back to my ship chores today, I wondered about the little girl. Will she have the courage to sail away one day? Will she live her dream?

Too often these days, we mortgage our dreams in exchange for things far less meaningful.

I urge you: Come sail with me. Re-awaken your ability to dream.

I might not be posting here so much and instead posting my musings at my Facebook page.