“Crystal oceans sparkling on the sand”
I grew up on a tiny ship. Even though my father wore a captain’s hat, my mother steered the ship’s course. The ship only traveled in safe and familiar waters.
As a child, I scanned the vast horizon imagining an exciting world beyond. Although I dreamed of being an explorer, I was satisfied to examine minute details of my secure waters. Every creature and element of nature was exquisite for me. Life was beautiful and filled me with amazement.
I never questioned whether I would ever explore or leave. But one day, another ship came to take me away. The excitement of it had me dancing with joy. I dreamed I’d discover new places with my mate; together we would sail off to discover paradise.
It was not easy to leave my parents’ ship. Sometimes I found myself crying, but hid those tears from my mate.
On the very first day, he surprised me and gave me the captain’s hat and told me I would be steering. I quickly caught on and although it was exhausting, I imagined I could see paradise past the horizon. I began to miss the times when my parents ran things; but I knew it was time for me to grow up.
I focused on helping to provide fuel so that we could someday reach our paradise. But I noticed that I was no longer enthusiastic about exploring the world and taking pleasure in the beauty of nature anymore. It felt selfish to dream. I decided it was time for me to grow up even more, so I became a mother.
My world was no longer “out there,” and instead our children became my world. I celebrated the miracle of life through my childrens’ eyes. As a mother, I decided I had finally grown up. I devoted myself to doing whatever I could to make my childrens’ lives easier. It completely encompassed my existence and sometimes I was heartbroken by the challenges I faced. But with love and determination I watched miracles occur.
When one of our children died, my tears filled the ocean and I learned how precarious life was. Even though I was a captain, there were many times when I couldn’t steer the ship. But I never gave up hope despite many horrible storms where I had no control. It touched me deeply that my parents’ ship anchored nearby and they often came aboard to help. My mate was not happy about it and that saddened me. He did not understand my life anymore, but I accepted it. Life was hard enough. I had definitely stopped dreaming about finding paradise with him.
Although I never minded a tiny ship, it wasn’t long before my mate and I traded in our ship for a larger one. We did it several times and soon we even had two boats. Each time, I was proud of our wealth and it seemed absolutely wonderful for our growing family. I felt rich, because now I lived on a cruise ship! It was so much larger than the tiny boat I had grown up on.
Our ship was something my mate was very proud of. Unfortunately, it required a lot of fuel. I was sad that my mate didn’t enjoy our home on the cruise ship and I felt responsible when it fell into disrepair. I knew it was my fault because I hadn’t provided enough fuel. In the past, I was easily able to contribute for fuel and repairs. But for many years, I completely devoted myself to our children and there were few jobs for me now. I felt like I was a failure, and our ship continued to deteriorate to where it could barely circle even familiar waters. Soon, it was simply anchored in one spot.
As the years went by, sometimes I wondered where my life had gone. Because our children were usually at fault for breaking things, I was stressed trying to prevent things that made my mate so unhappy. He loved his children, but was tired from working so much. He was miserable, but didn’t want to acknowledge it.
One advantage of our large ship was that it held many hiding places for all of the family members. Everyone was able to escape to avoid being together. I worked tirelessly to try to fix all the problems in order to bring our family back together. I had thought I was a good mother, but our children were very dependent because I had done so many things for them.
I remembered when I had my parents to help me. I especially missed my mother’s comforting words. When we were close, it was easier for me to accept my situation. Now most of my energy went into helping to take care of both my parents. I knew they felt sorry for me and wished their little girl had never become a captain.
As a child, I loved life, but now I felt tired of life. For such a long time my only joy was seeing the world through my childrens’ eyes. Now, I did not know how to be happy. I was only happy if my family was happy and that was an impossible task.
It dawned on me that I was married to that cruise ship. I began to hate it and retreated to the empty recesses to hide. I realized that I was not really rich at all; I was a servant to everyone else on the ship.
I began to wish I wasn’t on the same boat with my mate anymore. I was used to never hearing anything complimentary and it was hard for me to imagine that I had ever danced joyfully with him. His unhappiness weighed upon me so heavily that sometimes when he came near, I even felt the desire to jump into the water. Often, he upset me so much that I felt ill. I tortured myself with guilt whenever I tried to think of a way to leave; I saw no escape.
Just when I had little hope left, I heard a voice. It told me to write about my feelings and to start singing again. As a child, writing and singing always made me feel better. But when I began to write and sing my true feelings, it was scary because I had no idea I was so sad.
It was when I sang my own words, that I discovered I could dream of paradise again. I started to scan the horizon and began to imagine living with joy for my remaining years. I imagined how peaceful it would be to not constantly hear how our ship was dirty and how our children were lazy and at fault for many broken things. I gathered my courage so I could leave the cruise ship and my mate. It was because of my writing and singing that I found my courage.
I knew he would miss me, even though I had been absent from him for such a long time. Because he had never been a captain, he would be overwhelmed. But I did not provide the fuel he wanted for our big ship, and hated to be a burden. Sometimes I wondered if he hated the larger ship, too. It took all of his energy and he had little joy.
The most difficult part was to tell my mate that I was leaving; he never believed I would. I suffered terribly until I released my secret. I hoped our children would eventually understand and I planned to remain close to them.
Just as I anticipated, my mate was devastated. Although he was stoic and hid his anger, his world was turned upside down. Our large ship would be sold and he was especially furious that he was required to give me extra fuel. He had always worked so hard to provide it and felt betrayed. In my mind, I hoped it would only be temporary until I found my own fuel.
I had never sailed alone, but was confident of my abilities as a captain because I had already steered such a large ship. When my father died, he gave me his tiny boat to restore and even gave me fuel for it. I was elated to discover that it was still seaworthy. It would be a relief not to steer a big ship anymore – I could easily maneuver and handle the boat from my childhood. My father loved me so much and he must have known that the tiny boat would become my lifeboat.
I became ready to set sail without a mate for the first time in my life. Two of my children joined me and my oldest child stayed behind to comfort my mate.
As I sailed into new waters, I realized I truly was a captain now. I was pleased that my children were learning new things on their own from me. Even though they weren’t happy about it at first, I wanted them to captain their own ships someday. I also began to learn how I didn’t need to be a slave to my childrens’ happiness.
For the first time in my life, I sailed into uncharted waters and didn’t worry about whether I’d have enough fuel. My simple boat could sail with the wind. I felt confident that my father would have been proud of me for sailing his boat. Although my mother was very sick and not aware of my life, I knew she was happy to see my joy. When she beamed at me, I remembered it was she who taught me about finding joy through a child’s eyes.
There was a time when I felt that most of my life was over. I had nothing to look forward to.
As the spray misted my face, I felt alive. Once again, I was seeing the world with youthful eyes.
The ocean was a deep blue and crystalline waves danced in the sunlight. Exquisite sandy beaches were visible ahead.
Life wasn’t over for me, it was just beginning . . .
© Judy Unger and http://www.myjourneysinsight.com 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Judy Unger with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.