I stepped out on to the deck, the cool ocean air hitting my face as the cabin door swung open. The gentle rocking of the ship seemed to almost lull one into a false sense of security, as though we were in the arms of a loving parent rather than the millions of unforgiving gallons moving us with ease. Even a vessel this large was a tiny speck on the vast blue-green surface – a thousand waves breaking all around us yet none daring to topple the mast where dark flags hung.
Moving to the rail, I gazed out over the water and paused to consider the sheer scale of my surroundings. It wasn’t every day one had time to think of such things, the duties of everyday life often a louder chorus than the still silent voice I now listened to. I allowed myself a moments pause while coming to terms with how stranded I truly was. Often times events on the ship obscured our short-sighted understandings of our situation – many times we don’t stop to consider how far away from our comfort zones we really are, though we may be satisfied with the view anyway. As long as we have people we can talk to, tasks we can perform, and goals we can achieve, it doesn’t seem to matter where we are in the larger scheme of things sometimes. Moments like that scare me, for complacency can set in like a deadly plague and wipe out our dreams before we sleep!
My thoughts were interrupted by the sight of a small island on the horizon. Day after day we had pursued that rock, our hope being to find its internal value intact once we reached the sandy beaches. As I took note of its position, something began to trouble me like rainclouds forming on the edge of my consciousness. My complexion darkened as the memories of previous days rained over me as I stood there. There was something eerily familiar about the position of our destination, as a matter of fact it seemed like we weren’t moving at all! Rubbing my eyes, I checked the position of the sun and peered into the distance, wishing to be proven wrong. After several minutes it hit me – I couldn’t see any sign of us drawing nearer to our goal.
With a sense of urgency for the safety of our futures, I bounded up the stairs and approached the helm where our captain stood. His gaze was firm but unfocused, as though his light-hearted spirit softened the unknown events that occurred each voyage. His steady hands grasped, nay, caressed, the wheel with an unmatched dexterity and kindness he showed to no living soul. It was truly his ship, and he was one with the planks and nails that held it together. At times it seemed his life was bound to the mortality of the vessel…though that story is best saved for another time.
Noting my unspoken concern, he continued to stare past our bow and asked what was troubling me. I explained that the island did not seem to be moving, that our present heading had us at a standstill, or worse that we might be off course. He produced a small compass from his pocket, and after briefly glancing at the spinning dial he assured me that our heading was still correct. How could this be, I wondered aloud, since the very horizon seemed to shift and change with each passing day? What made him so sure that we were still going the right direction, that the wayward needle on his compass wasn’t playing tricks on us?
He finally broke his gaze with his unseen target in the distance and turned to face me. The face that had seen so much pain, suffering, and betrayal now brightened slightly. With a casual tone and half-cocked smile, he knowingly stated:
"Maybe you’re calculating the wrong angles, mate. Did you ever wonder if the island might be moving too?"