The way I see it, we are, each of us, dumped from the Titanic of our births into icy waters. We survive instinctively by clinging to what is nearby, some luckier than others by circumstance, some by strength, and still others by cold-blooded gumption.
I am among those who, while awaiting rescue, trade up to better debris. In childhood, I was supported by careless teachers, unhappy parents, and the lonely respite of the public library. As a young adult, I enjoyed the comfortable floatation of the Church, pulling at my oar half-heartedly while snickering quietly at the drama of my voice. When the dark and starless skies let me know that I was making circles, I took a dive into the passing ship of State, making myself useful dispensing the sterilities of mapless government.
In my early days of safety, I saw many people drown, and secretly I wished to know the foam of the waves that overcame them.
I watch others tread water for the length of their lives, using curious tools to stay above its surface. The morphine of religion. The aquarium of wealth. The fanning gills of sex. The antifreeze of drink. Their sharks never seemed much to care for me, though I would have been easy prey.
Imagine my surprise twenty-four years ago when someone passing took hold of me and pulled himself up and into the listing vessel of my life. Turned about in winter, I felt warmth for the first time. Good and playful work. An ease of course through dire straits. Laughter in the clearing of the drain.
To him I make these words. Happy anniversary, you with your charts and signs and sense of direction. Do not argue with me when I set love between the stem and stern of us and say now we will go this way or that. Hold fast, and sing with me when there is music in the wind. I feel good currents beneath us. Portage to those sunny islands. Soon.