I have studied many times
The marble which was chiseled for me —
A boat with a furled sail at rest in a harbor.
In truth it pictures not my destination
But my life.
For love was offered me and I shrank from its disillusionment;
Sorrow knocked at my door, but I was afraid;
Ambition called to me, but I dreaded the chances.
Yet all the while I hungered for meaning in my life.
And now I know that we must lift the sail
And catch the winds of destiny
Wherever they drive the boat.
To put meaning in one’s life may end in madness,
But life without meaning is the torture
Of restlessness and vague desire —
It is a boat longing for the sea and yet afraid.
—Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology
This has been my favorite poem for 50 years, memorized as a teenager. It is George Gray’s epitaph on his tombstone. I thought of it, and recited it to Mike, as we took a break this morning while biking along the waterfront in Monterey. Looking at the boats moored in the harbor, they looked like they were straining to be free….to be the boats that they were, meant for sailing, not sitting. I guess as a teenager, I wanted to escape my small-town hometown even then, and travel the world. Don’t sit there! DO something! Move! Take a chance…put some risk in your life.