|A Child's View of a Sailing Ship|
I saw a ship a sailing
Sailing on the sea
And it was all laden
with pretty things for thee
When our son was a toddler, his favourite book was an illustrated book of Mother Goose rhymes; among them was the tale of a Packet, captained by a duck. The fantastical ship in the story is "laden with pretty things." We read the book through together so many times that it became dog-eared and the binding eventually came apart. Even as a three-year-old, he could repeat the rhymes just by looking at the pictures.
I was thinking about this little rhyme this morning when I read the postings of an old college friend who last night went in for neurosurgery to remove a tumour from his brain. Ben, a classmate of mine, had been on the baseball team with me at Dartmouth as well as a singer in the Dartmouth Aires, a quite competitive a cappella singing group. Ben apparently had a seizure and was admitted to hospital, where the tumour was found.
Like Ben, I am 43 years old - not at terrible risk for mortality, but certainly entering the age where it is becoming obvious that we need to pay attention to our health if we are not already. Personally, I took up running 20 years ago following my first wake-up call - the death of my own father from cancer.
There is a less-than famous quote to the effect that in life, the only ship that is guaranteed to come in is a black one. Rich and poor; famous and obscure; powerful and powerless - we all await the same fate.
Before your ship comes, take the time to enjoy the people in your lives. Play with your kids. Talk with your spouse. If there are family members with whom you are currently fighting - or worse, have fallen out of touch with - pick up the phone or knock on their doors. Personally, I've not always lived up to my own advice; too much time at work or treating my personal relationships too casually. We think we have all the time in the world. In truth, the black ship is already on the seas somewhere.
As of this moment, I don't know the outcome of Ben's surgery. He's a big, otherwise healthy guy. He is in the care of some of the best doctors in the world. And he's a really good guy who deserves the best outcome, so I have faith that he will come through with flying colours. I believe that the ship coming in in this case will be the one with sails made of silk and masts made of gold.
Ben has performed in the past at Fenway Park, singing the national anthem before a game of his beloved Red Sox. I think I and many others are looking forward to his next performance there in the very near future.