Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Voyage

I've been thinking a lot about the voyage these days.  I read a lot about cruisers who rush here and rush there and bypass things worth seeing so they can get somewhere else on schedule, something that seems to me to be a trip to a destination, not a voyage.

My ruminations on the voyage have taken a detour these days, though, as I've been sitting with my dad in the cardiac ICU in Pittsburgh, PA where I was born.  Time is suspended when you sit there.  You're not allowed to have your cell phone, which happens to also be my watch,  it's generally dark in the room, and there's a lot of white noise that blurs the edges a little, leaving you only vaguely aware that there's life outside the room.

My dad's voyage is nearing its end.  His life has been full, vital, meaningful, worthy.  He has taught me the value of hard work, the love of nature, the patience of fishing, and the respect of all peoples regardless of color or nationality. He gave me the opportunity to live in a foreign country for a good part of my formative years, helping me to value my freedom in a way not possible without that experience, to see how much we take for granted in this land where we sometimes treat the cost of freedom with casual indifference.  His background in engineering is responsible for my intense curiosity. He gave me the gift of all the tools I needed to explore, and none of the reprimand if I happened only to succeed in dismantling something but fell short of its repair. I see him shudder as he labors to take a breath and I wish that just this once the doctors could repair him.

As a cruiser who hasn't left the land yet, there's a tendency to be waiting for the voyage to begin.  Everything is geared toward "When we make the break from land...", but sitting here and looking back on my dad's life,  I'm reminded that every minute of every day we voyage, whether we wring the  most out of it or waste it, or just plain miss it.  So stop, take a deep breath, take a look around you and smile at someone.  Look at the sunset, feel the rain on your face, smell the coffee wafting out of the Starbucks, listen to the laughter of the neighbor kids, smell the ocean.  You may only have this minute.  Today.  Or you might be really really blessed and have 85 years to soak it all in.

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