The Age-Old Question
That is how it happens in fact. You search for some important answers for yourself using various sources, internet, seminars, church, visits to a psychologist, mentors, but the answer finally comes from the completely different and surprising place. I was not the one searching for the kind of “how to be happy” or “how not to lose the taste of life” answers. I was a young man and my life, full of joy and big dreams, has just begun. But as I said before, it’s always coming from surprising sources.
Some years ago I had a pleasure to work with one person, who has changed my picture of the meaning of life.
That time I was an intern in one project which was in a small and very remote place. Mr. A. joined the project shortly after I did, and he was my immediate superior. My first impression of him was terrible, since he started shouting at me from almost the second we met. I was demoralized and disappointed. It wasn’t what I had expected from my newly started career. The worst part about it was that I couldn’t leave the project, it was really remote, and I had a contract and ambitious to build my career. The project had to last for four months and I needed to be almost attached to Mr. A. That was a terrifying prospect, but my willing to work helped me to hold firm.
It was an old grump wearing huge round glasses. He smoked like a chimney and smelled exactly the same. All around he had touched got the cigarettes’ smell which I couldn’t remove. Mr. A. was a tall man close to six and a half feet and was a very lean. He had grey hair and always was clean-shaven. Watching him I noted he was not so old. His firm actions and sharp mind made clear he was a professional and still full of power, and his eyes were clear and bright. I don’t remember the color of his eyes, but I clearly keep in my mind how bright these eyes were. Mr. A. was already retired and came to the project to get some extra money. As he once told me, that was because his wife wanted to make a renovation of their house.
Time went by and we got closer. I didn’t find my superior a grump anymore. Mr. A turned out to be a great kidder. His jokes didn’t match to his look and the way he talked, but that made them even more hilarious. I remember once he was rushing me to finish some job. He was so much focused to end it sooner. I couldn’t realize the reason and suggested there was something else we would have to do. When we finished Mr. A. said with a straight face, “Finally”. Then I asked what next. And he answered smiling, “Nothing. Now we can relax and take some beer.” That was a kind of his manner.
One evening we were chatting about families, hobby and different things. Mr. A. told me that he had always dreamed to build a boat, a sailing wooden boat. He and his wife moved to a small town by the sea when they were younger. Mr. A. said it was the insanity to build a boat not in a maritime city.
I was surprised when the man showed me pictures of this boat. It wasn’t finished yet, but the hull of the yacht was already built. That was a sixty-five feet long boat staying on cradles. The hull was painted in white and blue colors, the port-holes still required installation, and the only mast was laying on the ground. Shiny and chrome railings circled the main deck, and a handcrafted steering wheel rested at the stern. It was huge and mighty. The boat was not as big as a cruise ship, of course, but I found it magnificent. I noted how Mr. A’s eyes lighted up when he was telling about his boat. The keel was laid twenty years ago, shortly after Mr. A’s family had moved to a town on a beach. He had rented a place in one local yacht club and started building there. That was a club for kids where they learned how to sail. These kids later had become his apprentices and helped him to build a boat. My superior told me that during his vacation he spent nearly all the time with the ship. The design, drawings and work plan he did by himself. Mr. A. collected the required accessories and spares from old abandoned boats, or ordered them by mail from abroad. It was a hard and very thorny time-consuming job. But that was his dream and he followed it. I listened very carefully when he was telling me about how to install a mast, and what kind of sails he would make, and how this sails would speed up his boat. Mr. A. dreamed of sailing with his family one day. He looked to me like he had already had that boat. The older man radiated the spirit of a young boy, while teaching me on how to set the sails for sea. He was passionate and excited. That I remember very clear.
In four months the project was over and we returned back to our hometowns, back to our families. We stayed friends. To skip ahead, we have never met again.
I called Mr. A. some years later after we worked together. I had one question only, if he had finished building his boat. He answered in his manner, very grouchy, “Are you insane? You want me to lose my dream?”
I happen to know that Mr. A. has passed away recently, he was 85. He left behind his wife, daughter, grandson and great-granddaughter. And I have no ideas if his boat has been finished. I don’t know if it’s right or not, but I hope that Mr. A. has never finished building his dream boat, that had made him so much happy. I guess he passed away while dreaming about it and making plans.
Now, I understand from that man that if you want to live a happy life, you must have a dream and follow it. “Build” your own “boat”, make plans, learn on how to, and make at least small steps towards your dream. You don’t really have to finish your “dream boat”, but keep it in your hard and don’t be afraid to look foolish. Learn to play the guitar if you dream to be a famous rock-star, learn languages to travel around the world, buy a worm coat and a pair of winter boots to visit North Pole one day. Just don’t lose your dream and then you will never lose the taste of life.
I stop here. I promised my daughter that today we will think of a name for the boat, that we build together.
Build your Own Dream Boat
© 2021 D Barba