A Distant Ship, Smoke on the Horizon

If you recognize where this phrase comes from, you’d know this post has nothing to do with our Journey.

Or maybe it does …


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Bed stricken for the weekend after a minor corrective surgical procedure, I resorted to my i-things for distraction. My thumb almost automatically dialed the iPod to Pink Floyd’s The Wall – an album I utterly enjoy and is particularly well suited to be listened to in one go, and paying full attention to the elaborate production. But this time, the powerful melodies, seamless transition between songs and winding lyrics didn’t navigate me through Pink’s emotional breakdown, rather taking me through a short introspective journey.
While in middle school, back on the early 80’s, I once borrowed Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon from the school’s library. I displayed the albums proudly over my desk at school and arrived home feeling slightly rebellious. I had heard about Pink Floyd from colleagues and listened to tidbits of their songs on the radio, but had never listened through their albums in entirety. I was thrilled. Sitting on the floor of my parent’s home, my best cassette tape in the recorder, I carefully took the vinyl discs from the sleeves. The Wall came first. And as the songs paraded one after the other on the earphones, suddenly a phrase on “Nobody Home” struck me as a lightning:

“… I have a strong urge to fly, but I’ve got nowhere to fly to”.

The thing is, by then, I had already been inducted into sailing, and the stories of Bernard Moitessier, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Joshua Slocum, Jerome Poncet, the Smeetons and others had given me a strong desire to cruise the oceans. But at the same time, I couldn’t reconcile the urge to sail away with the prospects of making a living, building a career and establishing a family. And the more I thought of this, the more paradoxical it felt. So, when I heard Roger Waters profess that phrase with his voice filled with angst for the first time, it felt like a slap on the face.
The Dark Side of the Moon came out of the sleeve, and as “Speak to Me”, “Breathe” and “On the Run” distracted my thoughts for a while, another slap on the face came in “Time” with Waters singing in his ironical tone

“… and then one day you find ten years got behind you.

No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun”.

I just wonder if Waters and Gilmour had any idea of how much anxiety thoso words could generate in the mind of a young teenager.

Sitting there on the floor, the album covers spread around me, the earphones hanging on my neck, and the cassette tape and the vinyi disc spinning mechanically, instead of proud and rebellious I felt small and full of doubts … What would be of me? Would I “get” the starting guns? Would I build a family? Would I ever sail the oceans?


Some 30 years got behind me past that afternoon. I may have missed a few starting, but seized others. The career already happened, and here I am well into our sailing journey along with Adriana, Paulo and Raquel.
Today, listening to those songs again, I felt as if sitting by the side of that anxious teenager 30 years ago and telling him that things would be alright.

3 Replies to “A Distant Ship, Smoke on the Horizon”

  1. NOW you are speaking my language, Alex. Everyone’s language actually. Our inner voices. Inner journeys.
    And about doubts, this might sound familiar to you.
    “Not the least of the challenges i faced were my own doubts. I grew weary of my doubts. They became too familiar to me. And tedious. Until i finally knew them so well that i began to welcome them. “Damn it!” started changing to, “Ah, there you are. Where have you been?” They began changing from adversaries to seeming companions. They became…the gate keepers. Before i could get to the far horizon’s edge, i knew i must fight past them. By trusting them to not let a false heart pass, something deep in my bones KNEW that IF i got past them, IF i made it “out there,” to an unknown, to a mystery, ultimately to a surrender…only then and thanks to them, would i know that i had made it to where i belonged. And belonging is no small thing. It’s huge! So it was that when i finally let go the last mooring line, when i pushed off, when i found myself in the midst of an ocean, on a foreign land…or facing deep loneliness, or lost, or a stranger even to myself…i knew that somehow i belonged there and then. My gatekeepers were far behind me. Their combat had been worthy. And i thanked them.”
    Thank you.

  2. True it is Jon.
    Certainty supports Expectations, which is such a fundamental aspect of our lives.
    Even before the Starting Gun, we are trained and rewarded to pursue and deliver Certainty. Certainty drives unity, action, satisfaction.
    Doubt, on the other hand, is uncomfortable, obscure, individualistic, unpopular.
    Certainty can take us from point “A” to point “B”.
    And yet, it is the anxiety, discomfort and questioning derived from Doubt that often lead us to step beyond the line joining A to B.

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