The Journey to Paradise
The young sailor’s great voyage on an aging boat
In their minds, many aging people still feel 20 or 30 years younger than their body actually is. The best of us struggle valiantly on – and keep their eyes open for the remaining beauty or challenges of the world – until more serious problems set in. Late in our lives, we all feel, in our still active minds, how painfully we are tied to our crumbling physical existence – leading us to darker times – until a possible near-death experience can give us a glimpse of “the Great Light”, reaching transcendental harmony and timeless peace.
A skillful young sailor on California’s west coast, some 150 years ago, heard about a wonderful Paradise Island somewhere in the South Pacific. To once have sailed there, that he would consider the fulfillment of his life!
He found a sturdy wooden boat of just the right size to enable him to handle it singlehandedly, and his family loaded it with provisions. Then he left his parental harbor to sail out over the wide ocean.
At first, the journey progressed swiftly. A good wind and the young sailor’s increasing experience moved him quickly in the right direction, over the wide surface of the open sea. Storms were handled skillfully. He often enjoyed working on his boat to let it better resist storms and be easier to handle.
One day, the equator, the half-way point of his trip, was crossed as he steadily moved in the direction of that still distant Paradise Island.
How wonderful it was to sail out over the wide ocean!
How wonderful it was to gain strength and skill on a sturdy boat to sail through life!
How wonderful life could be!
He was deeply grateful – almost happy – as he rose up in his life!
Later-on, the winds became less stable. There were periods of stagnation and some increasingly dangerous storms. First signs indicated that his boat and its sails would soon need repair.
There was some satisfaction in being able to handle the increasing problems of such a great journey!
Our sailor stayed his course, still enjoying the challenge!
Was he approaching fulfillment of his life already?
Finally, the sailor and his boat began to approach that distant island, the Paradise Island. An especially nasty storm tore the principal sail apart. But a reserve sail, though somewhat smaller, was there to be hoisted. Although the boat now moved slower, it still moved. There wasn’t much distance left to go anyway.
Our sailor showed his manly calm and determination.
He now understood what ocean-sailing meant.
But he also sensed that there still could be more serious challenges to cope with.
The constant variation in weather and climate had let some of the boat’s planks begin to rot, others to dry out. Therefore, a bit of water began to trickle into the boat – and our sailor had to use the hand pump to keep afloat.
But there still were some wonderful days as he moved along – now knowing that he was ever closer to his Paradise Island.
He was deeply grateful for the adventures of this journey which he had been allowed to experience so far.
Finally, now so close to that certain island, another very bad storm blew the last sail away and the boat once briefly rammed a shallow reef. Some of the now rotten planks gave in and let more water get into the boat.
Fortunately, or by the laws of nature, the all prevailing current of the ocean moved the boat in exactly the right direction, toward that Paradise Island.
More serious was the fact that, as the storm blew away the last sail, it also toppled the mast – which fell onto the sailor – and broke one of his collar bones. It hurt badly!
These events happen so suddenly. One always is unprepared.
What else could our sailor do but try to stay calm.
He took these set-backs now with a philosophical mind – but occasionally he began to calculate the remaining days until the approaching island should be reached.
He calculated the remaining days more and more often, every day, several times per day – by now fixated on the certain and swiftly approaching end of his trip.
Our sailor still felt capable in his mind – or wished to be capable – to handle the last part of his journey.
Then, suddenly the pump gave out! The body of the boat began to collapse!
The sailor used a rope to tie all remaining planks of the boat together as a raft – which was still moving on and on with that natural current of the ocean – towards the final goal, the Paradise Island.
How soon would he reach the end of his journey?
During the last days of the journey, a fog began to cover the ocean, light-gray at first, merely taking away the sight.
But, then, the fog became more and more dense and became dark – very dark!
Was that the final approach to Paradise Island?
But in remaining very good hours of mental clarity and a positive mood, our sailor still gladly remembered all the light-filled days of his journey!
Then, there were no provisions left. By now, though, our sailor had expected to have arrived at his longed-for Paradise Island.
He sat tied to the raft that once was his boat and wondered how the experience of this journey of his life might possibly end.
Over many hours, he still felt as if he was that youthful sailor, ready to admire what he had accomplished and, now, being where he was – and to still be able to solve the problems encountered on his voyage!
But his boat now kept him tied down, moving further into that final darkness.
In his mind, our sailor felt increasing peace – and, then, there was a profound sadness rising up within him – about the end of his journey and the separation from all he had been associated with? Was he beginning to be tired – very tired at times?
As he felt the end coming, he suddenly sensed his raft drifting onto solid ground.
Through the dark, he was surprised to see a light high up ahead of him, as if the rising sun were beginning to light the peak of a mountain close ahead and almost directly over him.
Our sailor decided to jump into the water, in order to swim to the now certainly not distant island – the end of his journey.
To his surprise, the water was very shallow.
He wanted to wade through the dark towards the presumed Paradise Island, but now he found that he was tied by that rope to the raft that was formed from the remains of his boat.
Now it wasn’t he who was directing the boat any longer, as if it were his body, – it was the boat itself holding him and leading him into the dark.
Finally the rope gave and set him free from his boat.
Suddenly the dark fog dissolved and our sailor found himself in the glorious golden light of a new morning on a soft beach, with a high mountain of shining light above. The whole island was covered by numerous blooming trees and shrubs with fragrant flowers. A multitude of birds were singing melodiously.
Our sailor walked a few steps up the sandy beach, laid down and finally sank into a wonderful, deep sleep of transcendental harmony and timeless peace
– in fulfillment of his journey.