As one enters the mid-forties, life seems often like a ship that is in irons or on the shoals. In many ways, the past is like the wake that has disappeared due to the current inaction and the future is an unknown destination. But as the days turn into [quoteright]weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years it seems that a new beginning is near. At last the winds begin to rise.
Whether the old destinations are still valid is one of the concerns that arises during the quiet period. The destinations are questioned both as to the worth of heading where one once thought it was important to head, as well as to whether or not the destination even remains a valid objective. Questions even arise as to whether the people that you knew (or hoped) would be at the destination are still waiting, or whether there is as much value in charting a course toward them as there once was. But it may not matter, as the winds begin to rise.
Still other concerns arise at this time. The old craft is not as sleek as some of the newer ones that you see on the horizon and if you are careful, you can hear the creaks and groans of age as the ship slowly begins to move again. If you are truly honest you will realize that the old ship is also not as fast as it once was, but you content yourself with the knowledge that the race is not always won by the swift. Even more concerning is the fact that other ships of similar vintage can be seen broken up on the rocks or are known to have sunk or are sinking. Despite questions of seaworthiness, the winds begin to rise.
But this period of new movement is also one of much activity aboard the vessel. Even any new destination is decided, you must be careful to ensure that the ship is able to weather the voyage. Things that were useful in the past must be jettisoned, at worst case, or at least made over to be useful for the next stage of the voyage. Renewed attention must be given to the craft itself to satisfy yourself that the ship is still able to go the distance. This may include cleaning the barnacles of the past from the hull and loosening the ties that had kept the sails from serving their renewed purpose. Some voyagers may not be able to make all the preparations successfully or in a timely matter. But still, the winds begins to rise.
Where your ship is going, I may never know. Where mine is going or what cargos or passengers mine will carry, I'm still not sure. I can't even tell when there will be enough wind in the sail to start the next phase of the journey. All I know is that I look forward to the beginnings that I sense as the winds begin to rise.
Essayist GARY HARRIS is well-known in San Francisco Mensa circles as the resident expert on Hobbits. Really.
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