I’ve always felt, and have always been told that I have an old soul. I’m not an altogether spiritual person by any stretch, but I do feel there is some truth to this. For my entire life, I have always been intrigued by history, learning, and the wonders of the natural world. When I look around me and see the idiocy of my generation, perpetuated by its unyielding attachment to all things superficial, all I see and hear is useless noise. My senses are ever-bombarded by advertising, inane politics, and the ceaseless frenzy that is the modern way. I often wish I could’ve lived in another time, writing this by candlelight with quill and font, with nothing more than the sea lapping nearby and the sound of the wind whispering by.
And thus Lorilee has become my escape. The projects have slowed down, she’s in the water, and most importantly, I’m sailing. Instead of frantically toiling away in the shipyard every weekend, I sleep in late, have my coffee on the foredeck, watching the seabirds over the backdrop of a rising sun. For the majority of time, the phone gets turned off, severing my connection to the noisy world outside. I usually accomplish a few small projects, but I take my time, enjoy the work, and sip on a cold beer at the end of the day. Not that I hadn’t before, but I am sincerely enjoying my time aboard.
I have recently become utterly enthralled by the Aubrey-Maturin series of novels by Patrick O’Brian. Though on the surface the stories are entirely steeped in naval warfare, there is a certain sublime freedom to them. The setting is mostly 19th century Europe, centered around naval captain Jack Aubrey and his esteemed friend Dr. Stephen Maturin. Their adventures together over land and sea are both charming and entertaining. It has been a long, long time since I’ve lost myself in a book. O’Brian’s vivid description of life at sea, bent sails, and starry nights is something of my dreams – of an age gone by.
About ten years ago, a movie was made based on some of O’Brian’s stories. It was called Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. It may sound somewhat melodramatic, but I can say with earnest that this movie changed my life. Shortly after it came out, I saw the movie, as just the mere premise of it sounded appealing. I was totally blown away. It not only entrenched my love for tallships and the sea, but therein I heard something for the first time that I’ll never forget: the music of J.S. Bach. From that point on, I knew I had to learn and know everything I possibly could about this music. It prompted me to change my college major, to change my hobbies, my tastes – even my friends. Down this path, I studied the pipe organ and harpsichord, traveled around Europe, and broadened my mind further than I could have possibly done otherwise. Even today, every time I hear the prelude to the first suite for solo violincello, I smile – because I know I would not be where I am today without it.
The engrossing allure of tallships has had me captivated since childhood, long before I ever set foot on a sailing vessel. I find them simply majestic, with their finely carved planks, polished decks, towering spars, and bronze cannons. One of man’s greatest technological achievements. And before I leave this earth, I fully intend to sail aboard one. My coming plans to voyage may only be a stepping stone to achieving that goal. Who knows?
What I do know is that I’m not meant for this time. I feel out of place – disconnected with all that spins around me. Some say that I’m running from something. That’s partly true, yes, but I also like to think that it’s more of a search for something – something grander. I have to think that there are answers to my questions out there…