It is a deeply buried embarrassment that I was born on an island where men make their living from the sea and I was such a poor sailor. It’s not that my stomach was weak … I could hurl with the best of them. But it impacted so much of my life. Basketball trips were a recurring nightmare. Not the game, which I loved but the ferry rides. There were trips that I spent, entirely on my knees bowed before the porcelain throne. I couldn’t walk off the boat and recover immediately. The sickness left the wharf with me too many times. And to add insult to injury, I moved home after a 42-year hiatus to discover that many Grand Manan fishermen get seasick for their entire fishing career. They just have the intestinal fortitude to face it … every day.
Somehow they push through their sickness. I am absolutely in awe of this. When I am seasick, I am incapacitated. I just don’t know how a person keeps going when they feel like that.
I simply don’t have what it takes and I offer my unreserved respect to those who persevere like this.
Now my son, KJ is fishing with a dear friend on Grand Manan … thanks Vince. He gets as sick as I did but he has that extra something that I could never find. He keeps going. The real fishermen are not necessarily those who don’t get sick, but those who do and keep on. I would like to have this quality in life in general.
Perhaps I have.
I have pushed through when I have been sick of my job. I have gotten out of bed on mornings when I have been sick of life in general. I have faced many parts of life when I have been sick of it. We think that “getting sick” makes us weaker somehow or that people should never feel as we do. If life is like the sea most people get sick and keep going.
I have been grateful in the midst of it all. Grateful to God for His help, for His Mercy, for His Grace. My life has been most blessed. It is a bit of a paradox because there are extreme sides of life as each of us know it. Today you may struggling to keep it down, to function as you must and it feels like the brink of your ability to take one more step forward. Deep down though, you know that you will keep going and do what you must. Not every day is like this one. There are times when the winds are gentle and breeze is warm. There is nothing quite so beautiful as the sights that a person sees on the seas.
I pray for more of those days to come … many more.
I have always loved this poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. It is a sailor’s poem that just works for all of us.
One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.
Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.