No, this is not some macho big fish story.
Sandra and I had stopped in at a pub at a local marina for a sunset beer. We were enjoying watching the activity at the various docked sailboats. Boaters lives are more affected by daylight, or the lack of it, than landlubbers and the approaching sunset was producing a small frenzy of last minute activity.
There was one exception to the boaters’ activity. One man was sitting at the back of his sailboat, smoking a pipe and staring out across the water. Something about his presence aroused my curiosity. Sandra was engaged in conversation with a couple of locals, so I slipped away to wander down the dock to take a closer look at the scene.
I strolled along observing the boaters taking in laundry, preparing dinner or over-the-yardarm libations, checking lines, etc. As I reached the pipe smoker, I paused to say good afternoon.
“Good evening,” he replied.
“Enjoying the sunset?” I queried.
“Hmm. Yes. that too. Been enjoying the sea,” he replied, “I love the sea at this time of day. She settles down to better reflect the light.”
“Your neighbors seem too busy to stop and enjoy.” I observed.
“Part timers,” he replied, “still got to be doing something all the time.”
“You live on your boat full time then?” I asked.
“I like to think I live on the sea, not on my boat,” he clarified for me. “34 years now, I’ve been living on the sea. 34 years, she’s been teaching me about me.”
“34 years is a while. How did you come to it?”
“A while, yes. Half my life, it’s been. When I was 35, I quit the rat race and bought this boat. I thought I needed to get away to find some answers. Planned to spend a few years exploring the world. Stopped exploring and settled in here about 10 years ago.”
“Find any interesting answers in your travels?” I asked.
“Only one. It is this: The are no answers,” he said, “only choices.”
“No answers at all?”
“Wisdom, dear boy,” he said with a smile, “is to be found in the questions you choose to ask; not in the answers you hope to find.”
“Can I buy you a beer?” I asked, smiling in return.
“Now that’s a good question.” he replied, “Perhaps some other time.”
“Ok. I’ll see you around then. I’d best be getting back to my woman.” I said.
“Now that’s a wise choice,” he answered.