So often I find myself staring out the window,
watching boats sail along the coast.
White sails scrape the bright blue sky,
while the boat’s streamlined hull cuts effortlessly through waves.
They move without fear;
without worry or weariness weighing them down.
Gracefully, they sail slowly past the horizon and into my dreams,
my mind commanded by Sirens as my head sinks to the depths of my desk.
When my eyes reopen, I am no longer in my seat in fourth hour Freshmen English,
but instead find myself awake on the deck of an old fashioned cutter.
Its polished wooden trimmings sparkle in the light,
sails snapping and crackling as if they were alive.
Winds whip across my face as water sprays from a starboard wave,
sending chills down my body and through my entire being.
With a sudden jolt, I’m thrown from the vessel!
Frigid water pours over me, and I awaken.
I open my eyes to waves of laughter.
As I pick my head off my desk, Mr. Collins is talking.
My classmates sit, staring at me with judgement in their eyes.
“I guess someone didn’t get enough sleep last night.”
Mr. Collins notices, shaking his head. He then returns to teaching.
Almost reflexively, I find myself staring out the window again.
Back to the breeze, beauty, and benevolence of the open water.
Back to bliss, to balmy weather and breaking waves.
“Mr. Smith, may I speak to you?”
Class has ended, and my stomach sinks as reality returns.
I approach his desk, tentative and wary, awaiting my punishment.
“I see you’ve noticed my Haseltine.”
He slowly walks to the painting, stroking the frame fondly.
“It speaks to you too, doesn’t it? It’s beauty? It’s elegance?”
I nod, quickly realizing I’m not in trouble as I initially suspected.
It has been nearly four years since that day, and I stand on stage.
Having already grabbed my diploma, I gave everyone a quick wave.
I felt a hand on my shoulder upon returning to my seat.
“Mr. Smith, may I speak to you afterwards?”
I smiled ear to ear, remembering with fondness Mr. Collins’ class.
After the ceremony, I walked slowly towards the worn brick building,
remembering epic yarns and tales I’d spun over the last four years.
It was like an epic: filled with challenge and triumph, victory and defeat.
As I slowly walked into the old classroom,
sun shined through an open window.
But like always, my eyes were drawn towards the painting
of the boats and the lake.
I walked to it slowly, it’s sleepy and sultry Siren song once again reaching.
Still today, it was a window, a portal to another reality
where I captained an old-fashioned chopper.
Even now, I could almost feel the wind at my back.
The older gentleman’s voice was soft, touched by today’s celebrations.
“She’s all yours.”
He slowly approached the painting, it’s soft song also ringing in his ears.
“Sir–I can’t possibly… it… it belongs here.”
The words he spoke next, I will never forget.
Whenever I look at the painting I remember, to this very day,
the way he smiled kindly and said:
“We become so consumed by our work,
our stresses, our desires, our need for more,
that we often forget to stop and look around.
We stop looking out the window and no longer find beauty in the world around us.”
He sighed to himself, transfixed by his thoughts and reminiscing in his own hypocrisy.
“We forget our dreams and desires to explore, to adventure.
We forget the rush of the wind, the sounds of the sea, the rocking of the boat.
Take it, and never forget. Never stop searching.”