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Paris, 20 April 2016.

Paris, 20 April 2016.

And so it begins. Another vessel. Another voyage. Another harbor. Another long-awaited, dreamed-of, hoped-for landfall. The old gnawing fear, once more. The old intelligence that always listens to fear for what counsel it may offer, met by the same understanding that fear is a junior officer not well suited for command. There is no help, no life, no answer, no hope but to make way, for forge ahead, to go at last to sea again.

Those who have never faced the ocean alone for days upon weeks in a small boat—faced the darkness, the mystery, the violence, the sheer power, the utter vastness, its pitiless yet beautiful indifference—have no clue. Giddy and well-meaning offers to “come along for the ride” are met with knowing and protective smiles. You do not want to be with me, friend, when the place we now know as “there” finally, chillingly, unalterably, becomes “here.” Here, there be dragons. Here, there be demons. Here, there be places within yourself to which you have never travelled and where you do not wish to go. Trust me. Rest peaceably in your easy chair, by the warm fire and the glow of the television set, dry and safe and filled with sweet foods and comforted by the purring of your cat and the loyalty of your dog and the caress of your lover. I do not take this way because I will. I take it because I must.

I have stepped up to safety from two vessels left battered and crippled at sea. There will not be a third. Not for nothing is the one on which I now sail named Nevermore. On this boat I will go around or I will go down, but there will be no going back. There is no other vessel, no other life, no other time, no other heading. This vow comes from the heart of a realist, not a hero or a martyr. I love my life and surely wish to keep it. Mine is no great valor. We all face the same fate unawares. None of us is long for this world. We are all sailing aboard the Nevermore.