Into the Deep

Have I missed the boat?

Did my last chance at success just pull away from the dock?

Once again this evening, I spent some time with a favorite book of poetry and came across this little gem–a well-known quote from “Julius Caesar” by the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare:

There is a tide in the affairs of men, 

Which, taken at its flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries:
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I have missed my chance at some things.  The mega-million dollar lottery comes to mind.  Each time the news media goes into its frenzy about the huge amount of money to be won, I pause and consider if I should go and put in my claim for a chance at that fortune.  I never have.  That boat has sailed again and again.

I shall never again have a chance to play professional football–no–that was never an option.  I will never, I fear, play the lead in a Hollywood production, never be the principal horn player in the Chicago Symphony, and certainly will never be the President of the United States.  If the tide ever could have borne me away to those destinations, it is gone beyond recall.  I like to think that perhaps the current never really gave opportunity to go to those places.

But, I have taken the current when it awaited my embarking on the adventure of marriage; I rode it to a lifetime of endeavor in the music retail business; I even have paddled some small distance into the bay as I headed to the venture of writing.  The sail is not out fully for that journey yet.  I’m just testing the water, as the saying goes.

There have been an amazing number of destinations to which I traveled, regretting not an inch of the journey.  One or two, about which I will hold my tongue tonight, made me wish I had chosen otherwise.

I’m still not sure that we have just the one chance to take that tide, though.  The lottery, it seems, is incessant; the purveyors of instant riches themselves are constantly intent on enriching themselves at our expense.  That tide will lap at our feet again.  Many chances offer themselves repeatedly, just like the daily tide, and we may safely choose the moment at our convenience.  Sales on various types of merchandise come to mind, by way of example.  That end-of-the-model-year never-to-be-repeated rock-bottom bargain-basement giveaway price for the widget without which you absolutely cannot live will almost certainly occur again–if not next month, then next year.  Some tides cannot be held back.

If I may make a suggestion though–we will never reach any destination if we do not, at least once, venture into the deep.

Every day, folks in my store speak of the time when their ship will come in.  Most of them are individuals who have never ventured any distance at all, and I’m reminded that if the ship which returns on the tide is to bear anything of value back for us, we must have made an investment in its outgoing journey as well.

Are we looking for the reward of a lifetime of waiting?  It won’t happen.  There is no payday for waiting, only for doing.

I realize suddenly that it seems as if I am preaching.  I’m not.  The words are directed mostly at myself, with an invitation for anyone else to see if they apply to them as well.

All too often, we (I) stand at the water’s edge and dip our toes into the icy cold flow of the high tide, saying, “Someday…”  The water ebbs away and still we stand, awaiting its arrival once more.


Perhaps it’s time.

High tide is coming in again.  Time to push out away from the shore.

I think I may want to do some sail mending first.  I’d be happy for some company.

“Finite to fail, but infinite to venture.”
(Emily Dickinson ~ American poet ~ 1830-1886)

“I’m sitting on the dock of the bay
Watching the tide roll away.
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time.”
(Sitting On the Dock of the Bay ~ Otis Redding)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2013. All Rights Reserved.

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