Save for a photograph, I am unable to recall—even with feigned clarity—my first experience on the water. It must have been when I was approximately five or six years of age. The only photograph I possess of that day is mounted on the wall near my bedroom door. We (my mother, brother, and I; my father presumably the photographer) may have been boarding a ferry. I’ll have to inquire further about this event and perhaps I’ll report my findings. (And who knows, I might feel inclined to include the photograph, too.)
Some weeks ago, I found myself on a boat trip for the commemoration of a man’s life. Despite the lugubrious occasion, the mirth and conviviality that often axiomatically follow during heartfelt reminiscences was welcomed and encouraged. As a primate mammal, I was surprised to find myself relaxed at sea. I beheld almost nothing but water. Tiny ships and a faded shore could be glimpsed on the horizon, but nothing more. Water surrounded me on all sides. The rhythmic splashing of the waves against the hull provided the perfect background noise to help me plunge into deep reverie. Loftily drifting through mind-forged hallucinations, I found a kind of serenity. By serenity, I mean to say that, momentarily, I had forgotten my terrestrial responsibilities like my job, grad school applications, undergrad school loans—debt in general.
I reckon such an interlude of detachment from the world is necessary. My experience makes me regret that I had not discovered this sooner.
To behold landscape, explore, become acquainted with new vegetation, to admire the flora and fauna even if modulated by human interference. To travel more often beyond the confines of my immediate hometown, meet strange people, and delve into foreign cultures; I think that is my goal now. One often hears that traveling ought to be done in youth, so naturally I’m inclined to ask whether it is too late for me. Should my concerns be with establishing a career, a future, and securing my posterity? Or shall I drop everything, circumnavigate the world, and take no thought for the morrow?
My intention is not to sound like someone for whom the death knell tolls, nor someone lamenting my proximity to age thirty—which as some friends often joke is one’s expiration. I seldom consider age when I stroll down the avenues of nostalgia. As a result, I find myself taken aback when asked for my age and even further flummoxed when asked to furnish identification for booze—I’m just not prepared. I can’t help but feel that in some ways age is an artificial construct, a way one can better catalog memories, a way to assign value to something, or perhaps as a way to cement oneself in complacency.
It gets one to think how more effectively and wisely one must use one’s time, a precious commodity especially (in the words of Henry David Thoreau) as the “evening of life approaches…” Since I’ve always thought of myself as the same child in the photograph, having acquired a bit of knowledge and a few skills to navigate the world (with relative success), I would therefore suppose that the adage ‘age is but a number’ rings true for me. Or at least I hope.