A bird may love a fish
But where will they build a home together?
– Tevye from Fiddler on the Roof
Where are you going?
Who will go with you?
What vessel shall bear you?
Answer these in the wrong order
And you are in trouble.
– Howard Thurman’s Observation, extended
Dream vs. Reality
Some of the very first advice we got when first moving toward the water was, whatever you do, don’t sleep aboard a boat you’re thinking of buying… you’ll fall in love with it and lose yer objectivity!
And so it was. Sorta.
Here’s the problem, though… the point entire of the whole sordid affair is passion. Practical concerns have their place of course, and maybe even the final say. How do we find the right balance between dreams and reality?
In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevya is speaking to his daughter who has fallen in love with a young man of another faith and ethnic background. It’s a good question and lovingly posed. Against his wishes, they go forward in love as lovers must. Who knows the outcome, for them or for any of us in the real world?
We love. We act on love. We live the consequences of our choices.
The western-ish Apollonian imperative - know thyself - is excellent advice, but a little passive for my taste. To it, I would add the eastern-ish, Zen imperative - seek balance.
Day-dreaming a vessel is a wonderful passtime. Not only does it carry us to far and fragrant shores, but fills our hearts with those things we relate to as the well-springs of passion. Sometimes its sheer escapism from our daily grind is a soothing and revitalizing relief.
For we are embedded within a life of our own making. Our priorities and choices have cocooned us within habits, relationships and obligations. I don’t disparage… we’re all entangled, one way and another. But these are more or less the ecography of our lives.
So, if we have made a life we wish to more or less continue - have a home ashore and full of family, perhaps - it constrains our passions for, say, a vessel. Or, maybe better put, it informs our passions.
Just as the parts of a vessel must work together to fulfill its purpose… just as it must be fit to face the waters it sails… just as its accommodations must accommodate its crew… so must it conform to its place within its owners’ life.
Here’s a subtle difference… I propose vs. I purpose. Americans tend to the former, British to the latter. In the case of adding a vessel to one’s lifestyle, I prefer purpose. It’s intentional, rather than hypothetical. Hypotheses have their honored place, but sooner or later, they’d better resolve… options winnowed to purpose followed by action.
And once in action, be persistant! More stubborn than mules!!
For adding a vessel into one’s life is no small affair, whether by one’s own hand or by simple acquisition. The success of the venture hinges on how well dream and reality comport. As in any other endeavor, the better matched our hopes and expectations with our actual wants and needs, the better the prospect of success.
Wrecks of dreams on the bedrock of realities litter the boatyards and backwaters of the world.
Not enough dream; what’s the point?
Not enough reality: no dream comes true.
So here’s my advice, taken in order…
Dream as you purpose to live.
Go fall in love.
Realize your dream.
[Note: Thanks to David Reece for the (facetious?) moniker; Obi-Wan Squareboti!]