Indulge me in a little Life Boat fantasy.
Today—I’m not sure why—my mind travels to a mighty river. In the mind voyage I am a passenger in a large boat carried along on the current. I don’t choose the speed of the current. It is. But I can choose to paddle to the side and slow down if I want.
Jagged rocks jut out of the water on either side of me. I steer clear of them, but occasionally I snag on unseen portions of rock that hide below the surface. I must reach down and push off.
A seagull soars overhead and curves toward me in a graceful arc. I enjoy the beautiful freedom of its flight. The seagull swoops low and deposits a large splash of poop on the edge of my bow. I blink at the unexpected unpleasant intrusion into the beauty.
I realize I’m not alone in my boat. Passengers ride with me! I think Where did they come from? Why are they here? And I think Those are good questions to ponder.
I look around and notice how I feel when I recognize each face. I expect grand and sweeping emotions, like love or hate, but that would be too simple. People are complicated. My reactions arise from the amount and quality of light emanating from each person, because each person has a distinct collection of firefly flickers of light around them. Golden lights pop like fireworks around people who laugh a lot and live joyfully. Blue lights flutter around those who practice gratitude. Violet lights surround the ones who think deeply. Bright white lights shine around those who help others. One person flickers with brilliant—almost supernatural—lights of many colours. I’m surprised by his presence, and I am even more surprised by how many golden lights pop around him.
“Huh,” I say to him. “So, you are here after all.”
“Always,” he says. His white lights glow.
“You’re very joyful,” I say. “People always take you so seriously.”
Some people have only a few dim lights that flicker into life briefly and then die away. I find I don’t hate or resent these people. I’m pulling for them. I want them to learn. One of these dimmer characters shades her eyes from the bright—almost supernatural—presence.
“There’s a storm coming,” she says. “You’ll never make it.”
“I see the storm clouds,” I say. “But I’m strong.”
The woman starts to pace and I realize she doesn’t want to stay in my boat. I direct myself toward shore, and she leaps over the side before I can even maneuver the boat to solid ground. In her haste to flee anything positive, and with her zombie hunger for negativity, her feet land in sodden muck. She stands in the muck like the Grinch with his feet ice cold in the snow. Other people I hadn’t noticed before clamber out after her.
When I set off again, my Life Boat is lighter and moves quickly in the current.
The storm clouds arrive and rain pelts down, but the people in my Life Boat with me smile, paddle hard and bail water until we pass through the storm and greet a rainbow on the horizon.
After all that hard work, we choose to dawdle for a while. We relax against the sides of the boat and talk and sing. We’re loud, and we don’t care if we’re in tune. “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-da” by the Beatles. “Witch Doctor” by David Seville. Ooo, eee, ooo ah ah ting tang / Walla walla, bing bang / Ooo, eee, ooo ah ah ting tang /Walla walla, bing bang.
Other boats float around me. Some have crews that paddle intently and relentlessly. They leave me behind, but I notice that no one in those boats is singing. When I pass near another craft stuck on the rocks, my friends and I row over and nudge it back into movement.
The sun is setting in the distance, and my Life Boat moves toward the crimson magenta of the dying sun. I contemplate what the sun means, and I think about pre-destination and free will. My Life Boat involves a little of both.
While on my Life Boat, I can’t choose the speed of the current. I can’t choose where the rocks are, when the thunderstorms come, or when birds poop on me.
But I can choose where to steer my boat. I can choose how to interact with the people who appear in my boat. I can choose when to paddle quickly and when to dawdle. I can choose to sing. I can choose to help people.
In my Life Boat fantasy.