“I have never heard anyone profess indifference to a boat race. Why should you row a boat race? Why endure long months of pain in preparation of a fierce half hour, or even six minutes, that will leave you all but dead? Does anyone ask the question? Is there anyone who would not go through all its costs, and more, for the moment when anguish breaks into triumph – or even for the glory of having nobly lost? Is life less than a boat race? If a man will give all the blood in his body to win the one, will he not spend all the might of his soul to prevail in the other?”
“Veil after veil of thin dusky gauze is lifted, and by degrees the forms and colours of things are restored to them, and we watch the dawn remaking the world in its antique pattern.”
“-Hey, listen,” I said. “You know those ducks in that lagoon right near Central Park South? That little lake? By any chance, do you happen to know where they go, the ducks, when it gets all frozen over? Do you happen to know, by any chance?” I realized it was only one chance in a million.”
I watched the ducks go about their start of the day routine from a bench along the water at dawn. One ritual was to repeatedly duck under the water and rise up – letting the water run off their feathers. Like taking a little duck shower.
“How often have I watched, and longed to imitate when I should be free to live as I chose, a rower who had shipped his oars and lay flat on his back in the bottom of the boat, letting it drift with the current, seeing nothing but the sky gliding slowly by above him, his face aglow with a foretaste of happiness and peace!”
Out of bed at five AM out of the house at five-thirty. My son Lee was running a 5K – four laps around Bachman Lake at dawn. I enjoyed sitting by the lake, watching the sky brighten and the sun rise, the early morning planes lifting off from Love Field, the ducks coming to check if I’d give them something to eat, and the early morning crews rowing on the smooth lake. There was no wind – the only disturbance was from the ducks and the boats.
Lee wanted to run a fast time on the flat and open course. He did succeed in a personal best, beating a time he ran years ago, in high school.
White Rock Lake, Dallas, Texas
“hark, now hear the sailors cry,
smell the sea, and feel the sky
let your soul & spirit fly, into the mystic…”
― Van Morrison
“Where lies the final harbor, whence we unmoor no more? In what rapt ether sails the world, of which the weariest will never weary? Where is the foundling’s father hidden? Our souls are like those orphans whose unwedded mothers die in bearing them: the secret of our paternity lies in their grave, and we must there to learn it.”
― Herman Melville, Moby Dick
“There is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter. Nothing seems really to matter, that’s the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”
Spoken by Ratty to Mole in Wind in the Willows a children’s book by Kenneth Grahame
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea…”
– Antoine de Saint Exupery