When I Was a Captain: A Musing On Life

When I was a Captain of a ship out at sea.  Life was so simple.

It was a long time ago, 1810 or 11, hard to remember now.  She was a merchantman, my ship, my life, with tall beautiful masts full of sail and a sharp prow that divided the sea before us like a knife.  She was a gift from my father who told me to outfit her, pick out the best crew that I could find and begin my voyage.  He also told me to treat her right, like she was a princess.  We named her Princess Freedom.

We found a niche carrying explorer’s and adventurer’s to places other captains were unwilling to go and we set sail again and again, never fearing for the lack of a foreseeable destination, always reaching beyond the horizon, as long as there was a ‘star to steer by.’ Certainly there were long weeks and months as we searched for some heretofore unheard of island or notation on a chart from the ancient past.  Certainly there were days we went hungry or thirsty or in despair as we languished in the sun or the storms.  But there was always the goal, the horizon, the star, just out of sight, just out of reckoning. So it was simple.

When the waves battered our Princess we held her tight for her sake and ours.  When pirates attacked us, we fought them off with a ferocity known only by those who fight for their freedom.  When dissension threatened us below decks we did everything in our power to reconcile because a divided ship is a dead ship.

And when the doldrums came and we lost the wind.  We sat there.  Dwindling in a desert of ocean, we towed and rowed and hoped and prayed for the wind to return; and we watched for it’s return, rejoicing to see the moving clouds, the rising swell of the ocean and I enjoined all hands to heed my call, for the time was now.  Our Princess would rise up then, on the breast of the wind and sing through the water like one of Mozart’s themes, like da Vinci’s dreams!

And at the end of every story, she brought us home again.

When I was a captain, life was simple.


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