I feel a deep sadness within. For all of my life, I’ve struggled only to do the right thing…to be a good man…a good father and husband…to simply be a decent person. This has been the consuming passion of my life. At five years old, walking along the beach at night on the New Jersey shore, I drempt of and imagined what my life would be like years before the age I am now, and yet it still seems I’m walking along that beach within my minds eye – yet now struggling to manifest or create the pleasant dreams of what I imagined so many years ago.
It may seem odd, but the thing that I drempt of was for nothing more than a peaceful, happy family life. Spouse and children, living the dream of all my grandparents had struggled so hard to achieve. I never imagined any success at career, fame or fortune. What I imagined were quiet, joyful evenings surrounded by loving family and friends playing cards or board games. I imagined listening to the crickets chirping in the evening as we all sat around, sipping coffee and reveling in the presence of each others company. We would discuss the deepest mysteries of existence as well as the pleasantries of the mundane routine of the lives we led.
Unfortunately, in a world as it is and with the people of whom I’ve met, that seems to have been too much to ask.
The world is nothing like what I imagined it to be as that five year old boy strolling dreamily on that beach. I’m not talking about nations or politics, I’m talking about the simple pleasures in just simply being, surrounded by those whom I love and loved me. Despite any of the ugliness which I experienced as a child, I was fortunate enough to see and be exposed to people and families who did, in fact, love each other. I was able to see a contrast to my youthful reality. Though not a part of my world, I was able to see what it was like to live, and love and just simply be without all the complications of the life I was living at that moment.
So here I am, more than forty years later, still pursuing that light, far off in the distance, across that sea. I’ve tried to cross those watery crests many times and been shipwrecked more than I would ever care to remember. Yet I always struggle my way back onto shore and look again, off into the distance at that light across the waves. There are times when I lay almost completely broken, there upon the shore, for months or years on end, wondering why I struggled back to shore. Why didn’t I let myself be drowned and just be done with it. I can not tell you why. Even when I wished to drown, I still always struggled and grasped for shore – not for any love of life, but for something larger and deeper which I never have truly understood. I don’t comprehend or understand it, but it’s the thing which has always driven me back to shore with the full knowledge that I will (of course) try again.
I’m not strong or brave or fearless. I am not heroic or some keeper of deep truths. I writhe in agony every time I set out to sea. I usually sail in the wrong direction…on purpose. I have no answers or deeper truths. What I sail and swim and strive for are the dreams and hopes of that five year old child, walking along the beach, projecting himself in the life which he imagined…on those same New Jersey beaches, so very long ago.
I expect and demand more for myself and my life. Lacerated and crippled as I am. Lost and alone in the dark as I am. Drenched and shivering as I am. Weary and ill as I am…
…but no less stubborn and determined as I’ve always been.
I’m no hero or superman. I have no superhuman strength or talents. I’m just someone who has seen the lights across the Delaware River…someone who still feels the need to reach that distant shore across the bay. Why I’ve been so compelled after so many failures, I can not explain.
But I must admit I’m getting very tired of attempting the crossing and I can’t swim with as much strength, determination and stubbornness as I used to.
I still see the lights across the bay, but age and weariness require longer rest upon this opposite shore.
My exhaustion has almost extinguished my anger.