Monday, November 29, 2010

Every Captain's Dream

Many have said it: Time is a river. We all ride this river, but we each experience it uniquely -- we feel the journey differently, depending where we are -- where the river bends; where the bubbles rise; where the rocks scrape the bottoms of our boats. And it is on a boat that we ride and that boat is filled with those who share our trip, whether by accident or by design.

As she goes, we spy scenery going by. When we look away from it and put our heads down to some task, either on deck or below the planks, we miss what is passing. Then we stop and say: "When did I get here? Where did the mountains go? -- the ones I remember so vividly from once before?" If we stay on deck and watch things passing, looking into the distance, it feels as if time is passing slowly. But if we watch the water rushing past our sides, we feel we are outracing the wind and maybe the river itself, though that is foolish, and days become minutes.

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We drop anchor when we can; in whatever way we can. But the anchor always slips, eventually, and we are carried forward. Nevertheless, we look for ways to make it stick in the murky, soft bottom: we pay for more expensive anchors; we drop them at every conceivable angle; we dream we can feel the bottom with fingertips on the taut rope.

And, when we can, we fool ourselves into thinking we are not on the boat at all. We lie on the deck, looking up and framing the sails out of our view to keep the sky pure, blue and seemingly infinite. We watch the still clouds and it feels like we have cheated the river -- as if we could fly up and away at will and dissolve ourselves in to the vapor.

Sometimes, we muscle our boats over to the bank and occupy ourselves with whatever diversions we can find on land, out of the flow, as long as we can, until our shipmates call  -- "Here! Over here! Anchors aweigh! We need you and you need us. Time to go now."

But the day does come when we find ourselves bound to remain on the bank, listening to the flags and sails we once raised with our own hands flap away into silence in the late day sun, until they disappear and leave us there to explore the undiscovered country alone; to find whatever it is we find.

Every captain dreams of controlling his boat. Every captain dreams of standing firm at the wheel, despite storm and rapids. But no matter what, the river moves at its own will; it moves every vessel at its will -- no matter how heavy the ship; no matter how richly wrought; no matter how high the sails or how strong the engines or how many slave-worked oars she boasts.

No matter how strongly the captain's hands clutch the wheel, the river is a pilot with its own mind.


  1. Your blog needs a "like" button.

  2. Wonder if I can do that? Maybe I need a FB page for the site to do that . . .