Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Suppose you grew up in a fishing town with a large inlet bay.
You assumed that, one day, you would make your living from fishing, either directly or from supporting those who do, just like everyone else in your town. Yet, before you became an adult, you realized that your assumptions were wrong.
You were different. You were not content with the provincial life satisfying so many around you. You wondered about the world beyond the bay. You asked your elders about this world, and were told that the bay empties into something called an “ocean”. Your elders told you that only fools dare to head out into this ocean. Many have perished, and if you don’t get these silly ideas out of your head, you will too. You try to follow their advice, giving no more thought to this “ocean”. Yet, the idea continues to grow, an itch you can’t let go. You begin to feel like this girl:
Like her, you decide you’re going to risk this mysterious ocean. You build a boat, even though you have no guidance on building a boat seaworthy enough for an ocean. One morning, in spite of the pleading from your family and friends to give up your fool’s errand, you set off.
The ocean proves to be more challenging than you could have imagined. You find yourself in a storm. Your boat is destroyed. You barely survive the experience, floating back to the bay on a piece of driftwood, the warnings of your elders ringing in your ears. The town figures that you learned your lesson.
They are wrong.
You build another boat, using the lessons learned from your first experience. The town now questions your sanity. Some advocate committing you to an institution for your own safety. You move your boat-building to a secret location in response. You launch your boat at night, when everyone is asleep.
Once again, you encounter a storm, along with rough waves. This time, your boat survives the expedition, but your mast is broken. You paddle your boat back to the bay, arriving to the ridicule of your fellow townsfolk. Your family chastises you for your shameful behavior.
You are undeterred. In spite of the ridicule and scorn, you continue modifying and rebuilding your boat. With each voyage, you discover more of the world you were never told. You discover that the ocean has no end, and that there are endpoints to the journey: bays, rivers, even other towns.
You become a veteran sailor. You discover a skill for helping others less experienced in sailing the ocean. You save lives. You develop a reputation with neighboring villages and towns. Some call you a hero.
Yet, when you come home and report your discoveries and adventures, the town doesn’t believe you. Instead, they believe you have gone mad. They are critical of everything, from the condition of your boat, to the state of your clothing. The fact that you are no longer shipwrecked is not relevant to them: they point to the slightest damage or imperfection in your sailing vessel as proof that the ocean is too dangerous to sail on.
You realize this is not Disney.
You collect evidence from your travels, but your proof is dismissed as fake. Instead, the town uses various methods to try to stop you: shame, sabotage, incarceration. You resist them all. You stay loyal to the calling of the open sea, in spite of all of the shame heaped on you by those at home.
One day, you come back from your travels to find you are no longer welcome. The town doesn’t specifically ban you from the town. Rather, they avoid, ignore, and shun you, whenever you pass by. The look in their eyes betrays their view of you. The ocean is dangerous, and you are proof. Your family accuses you of abandoning them as they ironically ask you to leave. You are shocked and dismayed. How they can be so obtuse! Why do they so willingly close their eyes!
After the initial wave of despair, you begin to realize a couple of truths. The first is that, if you had not seen the wonders of the ocean for yourself, you wouldn’t have believed it either. The only way they could is if they were courageous enough to brave the ocean themselves. You also realize that few ever will, and that it will take an outsider to convince them, someone like you from another place far away.
Another realization is that, although you may not be welcome in your hometown anymore, that does not mean that you are without a home. The world has become your home and you can always find a place to welcome you. You are at home wherever you lay your head.
Are you a fellow wanderer, dear reader? Are you out there on the open ocean, wondering if you will ever find a place you can call home? Know that you are not alone. There are others like you, sailing the expanses of the world and doing good wherever they find themselves.
And to you, I say this: open your sails and continue your journey. Keep moving forward, towards wherever you are led. You have a family, even if you have not met them, cannot see them, or know who they are yet. They may not be your family of origin, but you will find them in due time. Your loneliness will not last. This I assure you.
Take heart, and know there is a greater purpose to your travels, one that will justify all of your suffering. You were made, not to be a messenger for your own hometown, but for someone else’s hometown. This has always been true, as it is true for you as well.
Most of all, know that you are loved, far beyond mere belief.
And if you should be the one who sails into the bay of my hometown, proving that the existence of the ocean is more than myth, please tell them I bear them no ill will, and that I also love them.