I feel free when a gentle breeze caresses the back of my neck on its way to the tender embrace of a tall, white sail. My love affair with this variety of freedom began at an early age and from afar, watching beautiful ladies as they quietly moved with purpose across the blue Chesapeake Bay. I felt envious of the freedom they had, moving anywhere the wind blew, a home on a liquid highway far more romantic than a camper on an interstate. I would dream of one day owning my own ship and sailing the world; it’s a dream I haven’t given up on. But the practicalities of life and living an hour or more from the water have tempered that dream.
I get tastes of that dream life when we travel. We’ve made it a tradition to hit the water for a sail when we get away. We have sailed on fine old ladies made of wood and propelled with canvas with names like Selina and Winifred. I begin to relax immediately upon placing my feet on deck. The gentle rocking motion beneath me and the sound of water lapping against the hull seems to leach the confining stress and worry of the real world from my skin. The clicking sound of a ratchet biting down on a line is the simple alert that adventure is on the way. The sight of a rising sail flapping, then snapping taught and harnessing the wind carries my heart out of my chest and across the sea and time. My imagination leaps at the chance to picture myself as an early explorer wondering what secret world lies in each hidden cove. I know the freedom I have on the water makes visiting each one a possibility. It’s a freedom rolling down a highway with the constraining walls of yellow and white can never provide.
I feel free when I’m not confined by gravity when I can fly, or should I say float, in a universe that is not my own. Without fail, every time we step off the edge of a dock or back of a boat my wife says “I love the water”. I think it’s because of the sense of freedom you get in an environment that allows you to forget the laws of gravity for a while. I love the fluid grace water adds to your movements making motions that are sharp on land truly fluid.
I love diving, not with a scuba tank or from a high dive, but from the surface of the water to the coral beds below much like a dolphin. Like our confused mammalian cousin I to pretend to be a fish. I float here and there, spinning and turning to look at all the life around me. The only thing reminding me I don’t belong is the eventual burning in my chest telling me to surface and breathe.
I love the feeling of freedom you get in the water, unbound by the rules that govern your everyday life. Where the birds aren’t the only animals that soar above and squirrels aren’t the only creatures hiding in the rocks. The currents carry away my burdens and leave only me, free to float on the tide in an alien world I dream is my own.