Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Hope Your Boat Arrives Before the Dock Rots

There once was a man who loved the sea. It was his greatest desire to sail on the vast ocean. He dreamed of the wind on his back and the horizon in front of him. He wanted to go out to sea on a big boat. He imagined that all the villagers would cheer for him and celebrate his adventure with a parade and grand applause.

So he built a dock, a very large dock with many hooks to hold the boat still while he boarded her. And every day he worked on his dock, shining it to perfection so that there was not a single splinter. And every night he walked out to the end of his long dock to wait for his ship. Overhead the seagulls cawed and in the distance he watched dolphins and sea lions frolic in the waves. He would inhale the ocean air and wish very hard for his big boat to come.

Occasionally small dinghies and schooners asked to rest on the man’s dock. Even though they offered to take him for a ride, he refused. He was waiting for his big ship to come in and he didn’t want these smaller vessels to get in the way. As the months and years passed, his heart grew heavy with longing. One day, a villager came to the man and said, “Jim,” for that was the man’s name. “Jim, I sure hope your ship comes in before your dock rots,” and he patted Jim’s shoulder and walked away.

Jim stood up and looked at his dock, which by now was no longer in the great shape it had once been. In that moment he realized that what he wanted more than a big ship was to be on the ocean, to feel the movement under him, to taste salt air, to feel the vastness of miles and miles of water and adventure in front of him. He walked out to his dock and hailed to the first boat that sailed by. On board was a sailor ready to come on land, and so they traded the boat for the dock.

And Jim sailed for the horizon, with no one but dolphins, sea lions, and seagulls to watch him go, and that was enough.

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