I have been in a bit of doldrums on the sea of inspiration as of late. It is not for lack of a trustworthy ship to sail the waters, or the result of an anchor stuck fast on the ocean bottom as it has been in years past, but rather a lack of wind propelling the near effortless movement I have enjoyed in different times. With each breaking dawn, I would stand at the tiller of the ship awaiting the wind needed to propel me forward. When the wind failed to blow in the strength I wanted, I found myself distracted by sites such as XKCD, Reddit, and Facebook. As the ship’s crew, (mercifully only me) began to die of thirst out on the waves, a difficult decision loomed. It was time to perish, or begin the arduous task of rowing for shore.
It is thus that I approach the next 25 days. I, in the good ship Thought, dragging whatever flimsy flotsam I can lay hands on through the waters of inspiration, desperately hoping that with each stroke of pen or key I come closer to my unknown destination. I don’t sail this sea lightly, because the stakes are higher than they have been before, both in my own life, and in the world that seems to be tearing itself apart around us all.
I do not know the full directions to the destination of this ship, though I do have a map of sorts. A star has risen in the east to guide my travels. Each stroke is my own, and you may not agree with how I ply my oar against the water. I do not expect agreement or acceptance of each concept I use to propel myself forward, but I suspect that in the swirling eddies and vortices left in the path of Thought, you may find something that propels you forward. I invite you to follow my journey, gleaning from it what you will, discarding what you find insensible or illogical. You may find as the strain of the journey increases, I may rave as a lunatic whose wits have left him in the heat of the day. I can not promise we will reach the shore, but if my strength holds out, I hope to continue rowing for the full 25 days. I row in search of the promise of peace, that I may lead others who seek to complete the same journey.
Will you join me on this voyage?
The first days journey… It felt good to test my strength against the oars today. Although I was hesitant to wrap my hands around the end of the rough wooden blades, I find that my strength has not yet faded from disuse and my mind feels sharp enough to bring this task to completion. I suspect the morning will reveal a soreness from my efforts of today, but as it stands now, I am encouraged. I feel I have made progress towards my goal.
A second day upon the sea… Though I rose stiffly at the break of day, I taried over my arrangements for the day, and sat at anchor longer than necessary. When I finally put shoulders and back behind my arms, the strength of yesterday returned. I rowed further than I had intended today, and may perhaps have unintentionally added to my burden.
My third day upon the sea was much like the first two, and the monotony of endless gentle swells begins to tell on my nerves. My sure strong draws on the oars have occasionally lapsed to furtive slaps as I seek a source of novelty. The freshness of forward movement rots in the consideration of the leagues of open sea that remain to be travelled. As I end my odyssey for the day, I hope to find amusing thoughts to ponder for tomorrow. A break in the building monotony would be welcome.
A fourth day brings a change, the swells around me seem to be rising, but there seems to be little cause, and worse still, no aiding wind to drive me forward. My limbs have grown somewhat fatigued from the strain of consistent rowing, and my mind is consumed with thoughts of a storm brewing on the horizon. A boost of encouragement was felt as my additional toiling of the second day has begun to bear some fruit, and I am grateful for the boost of energy it has provided. I place my hands on the oars, and pull with vigor, though it lacks what it had in effect the first day.
My mind has found a somewhat fanciful path for the day, and the break in the monotony has served as a rest for heart and soul. I saw humor dancing upon the crests of the waves that ceaselessly lift and drop my little ship. A seabird flew by from who knows whence, but it’s antics as it was perched upon the ships mast were a pleasant distraction from the drudgery of rowing. I hope my ship afforded my seafaring friend as much of a rest as his presence afforded me.
My friend seems to have continued on his way, and a darkening sky has taken my good spirits with him. The frivolity of yesterday no longer invigorates me, and rather sobers me to think poorly of my efforts of the past day. Did I actually row enough yesterday to stay on course to complete my journey? In my joy did I lose my bearings? With a darkened sky and heart, it is difficult to judge if my continued beating upon the ocean has brought me any nearer to my goal. I waste the day in wondering, and am forced to row late into the evening to compensate.
A steady and refreshing rain fell throughout the night, and has calmed my raw nerves. My hands, blistering with relentless use, are worn thin and I had neglected to take care of them in my despair. This morning, I have set aside time to care for and bind them, aided by the freshly fallen rain that has collected around my feet. I must remember that this journey is not about speed or dignity, but endurance and completion. It will do me no good to be a well dressed skeleton when my lifeless body is found adrift. It is far better to arrive at my destination naked, shivering and alive, even as I arrived in this world so many years ago.
Another hot day has left me exhausted, and I choose to row in the comparitive cool of night. I fear that as my progress during the day lags, I risk endangering the completion of my voyage. If I were to fall behind by one day in my travels, would it be tragic? Could I recover from the lethargy that drags at me by resting for a time? I feel a pressing doom urging me forward.
Today I bargained with the waves. “Bring me some wind that I may rest.” I shouted my entreaties until my throat was hoarse and my heart melted within me. The only acknowledgement of my plea was the gentle brushing swirl of the waves against the barnacled wood that holds the water at bay beneath me. I row because I must, and a slight fever of madness drives me to continue reaching for my goal.
I slept the sleep of a Deadman upon the waves last night. The fever remains with me, and my throat worn raw is tender and inflamed. I stare at the waves in between fitful sleep, and the ideas form like waves beneath me. With each approaching swell I see a thought taking shape, but before it is fully realized it is dashed to foam under my ships drooping prow. The water that moments ago was unified and coherent has burst into something new, and as quickly as it forms, begins to disappear, leaving me adrift in a sea of half formed thought.
I suspect the fever is loosening it’s hold on my body, but I worry that my mind may be addled. I have misplaced the ability to know if my mumblings are cogent, coherent thought, or the ravings of a mad man. I row vigorously, but my sense of direction is not to be trusted. I had hoped to row enough to get ahead of a coming storm on the horizon, but I have not progressed enough and will have to battle the waves crashing over me as I row tomorrow.
My fever seems to have abated, but my attempts at sleep were tossed and turned far more than the waves tossed or turned my ship last night. The madness that I was afraid gripped me has not yet loosened its hold, but thankfully the storm I feared nearing has held off for the day. When sleep finally found me, I danced about on the sandy shore of my destination, but it dissolved beneath my feet, dragging me into darkness. A poor omen to inspire much rowing. I near the halfway point of my journey, but question what I will find when I arrive on those rumored shores.
Stroke. Stroke. Stroke. The one blessing in this journey is that I don’t have a whole bunch of different stuff to do. There is little to remember and not a lot of distraction. Just keep rowing. I almost miss the dreams of the previous night.
The thick clouds that greeted me this morning have not lifted, and the sun has not managed to break through. I am no longer certain that I am rowing in the right direction, but I feel compelled to row, as if my life depends on it. What if I wake to find that I have spent a day working against myself, against my former efforts? Will I be able to continue in the knowledge that I have cost myself greatly?
How did I find myself drifting at sea in the first place? Why was I not already on shore? What rotten turn of luck has brought me here? What have I done to deserve the punishment of fruitless rowing against the waves? Things would be different if I had been placed differently in the sea, but as it stands now, everything is working against me. Woe is me!
My indignation with my circumstances has passed for the moment, leaving me exhausted but resigned to what must be done. The merciless beating of the waves against my little ship may have taken more of toll than I first realized. Perhaps if I had started rowing before now, I would have strength to finish my task. I waited so long upon the waves for some passing ship, for some good samaritan or turn of luck to change my fate. Now I must make use what resources remain to me, but my time upon the waves has strained my endurance.
It has been 5 days since I last saw another living creature. Since then no wing, fin, or sail has found my eye. I continue to row for where I suppose the shore to be, but what if I reach the shore to find I am alone? Would an empty deserted shore be anymore welcoming than the desolate sea surrounding me?
After rowing for 18 days with no discernible progress, I have found myself willing to stop rowing, to accept the slow rot that awaits my atrophied limbs and failing heart. As I lay my head back against the bulwark, for the first time in a long while a gentle breeze pushed against my sail. As the cooling breeze dispersed the humidity and began to clear the clouds over my head, I found new joy in simply being alive to enjoy this new breath of strength, blowing from outside of myself, but filling my lungs with determination. I find strength to row again.
I begin to remember those who I will find on shore, and hope that I will not fail them. They await my arrival, though it is not assured. For the first time in my journey, I do not row for myself, but rather for them. That I may bring them joy by presenting myself before them, my feet on solid ground, and my arms weary from work.
The strength of the past days has dwindled, but I use what strength I can find to row for a few moments. I move imperceptibly, but I have moved, and that is enough.
I awoke this morning to the sound of another bird. It’s surprising caw stumbling into my mind, waking me from a reverie that had threatened to leave me listless and dull. I am encouraged that shore must not be far, and begin straining my eyes in hopes of seeing the sandy beaches that my feet ache for. I watch my friend the gull float and flit around my limp sail for a while, the playfulness and joy a needed source of distraction.
Gulls are more frequent visitors, some passing by with just a nod, others stopping to visit, chatting with me in their own way. I find their conversation unintelligible but encouraging. I welcome their sight, but wonder what they think of me?
Today I was startled by a loud burst of sound near my stern, fearing the worst I looked back expecting to find I had somehow drifted into a reef. I almost feel from my seat when I found that a pod of whales had stumbled upon me. My initial fear increased as one of the larger mammals swam towards my now dwarfed craft, but his gentle nudge in the direction I was going was intended to encourage me. After a few minutes of nudging me along, my large friend and his family went on his way, leaving me with a glimmer of what I hope was the shore as the sunset fell into the sea.
I can see it. As the sun rose behind me this morning, I can see the shore ahead of me. While it is not clear and defined, I can no longer blame the vision on a trick of shore hungry eyes. The end of my journey approaches, and to fail now is inconceivable. The gulls and porpoise play around me in air and in sea and the music they create brings life to my tired limbs. I can reach my goal if I have strength for just one more day.
This morning, my ship scraped gently over rocks and reef to arrive on the sandy shore I set out for a fortnight ago. I find a joy in having completed my task, and the opportunity to truly rest is a salve on my sun-burnt and weathered body. My arms made strong by the constant rowing are tired, but now can cease their circular movements for a time. My first steps upon the shore are shaky and weak, as I have not used my legs for sometime, but each step finds me more sure of the ground on which I stand. I have much to celebrate and my friends greet me at the edge of the beach, ready with refreshment and great joy. I have many times set out to complete a journey, but so rarely have I finished them that this sensation of emptiness surprises me. When I wake tomorrow will I long to row again? Or will I find joy in this new place I have found. I have learned a great deal out upon the waters, but will I forget the lessons in this desert of dry land?
Their is life here, and I am glad to have found my way to this place. As I drifted into sleep last night, my friends told me of other journeys that will lie ahead for me, other destinations that I may seek if I choose. For today I am happy to rest, but the thought of other challenges ahead inspire excitement instead of fear.
For now I rest in the peace I have found on this promised shore.