An unexpected spiritual journey
I woke up Wednesday morning in a completely unfamiliar frame of mind. It prompted me to take an impromptu drive to a museum and offer up one of my creations as a gift. That little boat in the center of the photo above is the object of which I write.
Obviously, I had something of an obsession over these boats. I mean I did build three of them over a period of just about the same number of years. Why? Damned if I know. I know they’re beautiful. And I don’t just mean the ones I built. This obsession is one of my very earliest memories. I think I was six when I first visited the museum and saw these Adirondack Guideboats on display. Something about them spoke to my soul. It wasn’t that I wanted one, I wanted to build one. Not because I wanted to possess it, but because I wanted to unlock the magic of why these things tugged at my very essence.
The first one wasn’t good enough (that’s the blue one). I won’t point out the flaws, it’s enough for me to know they’re there. The second one is as nearly perfect as anything I’ve ever created. Exactly as I had always envisioned. Additionally, it was built with reclaimed wood that my favorite uncle gave to me. The sentimental value is beyond expression. I accidentally punched a hole in it four years ago on a Father’s Day outing with my son when I set it down on the sharp corner of a dock just a little too hard. I’m heartbroken, to say the least. It hangs in a storage unit now awaiting repair that I may well never get around to doing.
The little one I built on a lark one winter when I apparently couldn’t find anything better to do with my time. Apparently, raising four kids, working a way more than full-time IT job and cycling 120 miles a week just wasn’t enough for me. God, I wish I had that kind of energy now! Anyway, once this model was completed, I had exactly what I had really always wanted. A guideboat I could just look at whenever I desired. It’s been with me ever since. Through the raising of four amazing humans, the way too early death of my wife, five moves and two not so successful relationships.
It might sound a little macabre but I used to tell my kids that I wanted a Viking burial in this boat. Empty my ashes into the boat, pour a generous quantity of good Scotch over it all and light it on fire. Then push the whole thing it out into the lake, split the rest of the Scotch and toast the passing of the tortured soul that was their father.
Instead, on Wednesday morning I woke up thinking I should give this thing back to the place that brought it to me. Return the completed expression of my soul’s earliest desire to the source of its passion, so to speak. And in the process, maybe I’ll release the hold this particular obsession has had on my life so that I may open a new door.
The seed that created this little boat was planted long before I had ever experienced any significant portion of my life. It’s been around since before I knew real, soul-searing pain. And it remains now that I have come to understand the gifts given to us in this life contain both ecstatic joy and crushing sorrow, in equal measures. I think now is exactly the right time to give it back.