BEHIND him lay the gray Azores,
Behind the gates of Hercules;
Before him not the ghost of shores,
Before him only shoreless seas.
The good mate said, “Now must we pray,
For lo! The very stars are gone.
Brave Admiral, speak, what shall I say?”
“Why, say, Sail on! Sail on! and on!”
“My men grow mutinous day by day;
My men grow ghastly wan and weak.”
The stout mate thought of home; a spray
Of salt wave washed his swarthy cheek.
“What shall I say, Brave Admiral, say,
If sight naught but seas at dawn?”
“Why you shall say at break of day,
Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! and on!
They sailed and sailed, as winds might blow
Until at last the blanched mate said:
“Why, now not even God would know
Should all my men and I fall dead.
These very winds forge their way,
For God from these dread seas is gone.
Now speak, Brave Admiral, speak and say”–
He said, “Sail on! Sail on! and on!”
They sailed. They sailed. Then spoke the mate:
“This mad seas shows his teeth to-night.
He curls his lip. He lies in wait,
With lifted teeth as if to bite!
Brave Admiral say but one good word:
What shall we do when hope is gone?”
The words leapt like a leaping sword,
“Sail on! Sail on! Sail on! and on!”
Then pale and worn, he kept his deck,
And peered through darkness. Ah that night
Of all dark nights! And then a speck–
A light! A light! A light! A light!
It grew, a starlit flag unfurled!
It grew to be Time’s burst of dawn.
He gained a world; He gave that world
It’s grandest lesson: “On! sail on!”
Do you wish, like I do, to be the Brave Admiral? I try but, more often than not, I find myself in the anxious shoes of the mate. Like most creative people, I imagine, insecurities are my most prized possession. They compel me to perfection, and yet keep me from reaching my full potential. They often find me with both feet planted firmly on the deck of a boat sailing a calm sea.
You must admit, this is far more comforting in its predictability. There is no risk in setting sail where there is always a shore in sight. Once things get a little choppy, you can always abandon ship and head towards land. But, even I, in my stalwart mate-ness know that it is the seemingly insurmountable journey that is always worth traveling. Those rough waves why, they shape us! The salt burns our skin and leaves scars we rightfully wear like badges of courage. Our hands are left calloused, and so it may be with our hearts, as well.
There are countless people on journeys they would rather abandon. I am on one now. I open the shop soon, and the thought of a fruitless voyage terrifies me. As I was going over the back end of the website with Nicole last night, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of panic. Why didn’t I leave well enough alone? I should have kept my dreams just that: dreams. Now that they are fast becoming a reality, I wonder who would ever buy my greetings cards when there are thousands, upon thousands, of wonderfully talented designers out there? When you read as many shopping blogs as I do, and read about so many talented people on a daily basis, the sea is vast and unnerving, indeed. But I sail on, and I hope you will join me, whether you are
Looking to get out of a job you hate or
Dreading a return to a job you can no longer avoid or
Realizing that your life isn’t at all like you thought it would be or
Missing a loved one very much.
I don’t want to be on this ship, and I doubt you do, either. In the end, we’ll be better for it. But until then, why don’t we keep each other company? We’ll take turns being the Admiral.
My favorite moment this week? When a group of friends and I were Admirals to a mate in the middle of a tempest and helped her sail on! sail on! and on!