Is age sinking this dream?

Do we all have a dream that wasn’t exactly how you dreamt it would be when it became a reality? Steve Perkin did. The semi-retired writer shares his initial joy and the sinking feeling that a sad aftermath seems inevitable.

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I always wanted a boat.

I saw myself sleeping on it, anchored in a sleepy bay somewhere. Throwing a line over the side to catch breakfast. Taking a dip to freshen up. Reading a book on the bow as the water gently slapped against the side.

So I bought one.

My mates all chimed in with the usual gag: “This will be the second happiest day of your life.”

Yes, I’ve heard that, I thought to myself, but I’ll be different. I’ll catch so many fish that I’ll become semi self-sufficient.

I’m going to become an old salt. I’ll teach the grandchildren all about life on the open sea. Teach them to love the water, not fear it. Teach them to fish.

And the day I chugged out of the creek and into the bay for the first time, standing at the helm, bait and rods on board, a thermos of coffee, my wife beside me … that was among the best moments of my life.

That we didn’t catch anything didn’t matter much. There would be other days.

Now, 2000 other days on, I’ve put my boat on the market and, if I sell it, it won’t be the happiest day of my life, it will be close to the saddest, not because I love that boat, but because I failed it.

It spent too many days moored in the creek. Too many days unvisited and ignored.

It wasn’t the boat’s fault. Every time I steered it out of the creek by myself, I was transformed into something else. An adventurer. A risk-taker. The ‘Old Man of the Sea’.

And now that will all be gone. I will return to being a boring landlubber. I couldn’t even keep it long enough to see my grandchildren to an age when they were old enough to come fishing with me. The oldest is only five and for her, fish are cute, not something you catch, toss in a bucket and later eat.

I’m selling it because it’s financially irresponsible not to. Mooring in the creek costs money, insurance and registration never go away and there always seems to be something mechanical that needs attention.

And there’s the trailer that takes up room in the driveway and must also be registered.

So, why didn’t I fish more often? Well, there are days when you can’t because there are other things you must do. Then there are days when the weather’s not right. Too windy or too threatening.

And then there are days when you simply have no excuse. They are the worst. When you look at the calm, blue water and are stricken with a feeling of guilt because you’re not out there.

“The fish aren’t biting,” you tell yourself. Or “I’m a bit worried about that noise in the engine.” Or “I’ll go tomorrow.”

And that guilt ends up drowning you. Every time you look at a boat that you’re not using is like having a dog you haven’t walked, or a mother you haven’t called, or a holiday house you haven’t been near in weeks.

So you get rid of it, because it’s the sensible thing to do.

And that’s what I’m doing, provided there’s somebody out there dreaming the dreams I once dreamed.

Hopefully they won’t come along for a few weeks. The tea-trees will soon be in blossom, and when that happens the snapper start biting and I’d like to tackle just one more snapper season.

And if I catch the big one, well, who knows, maybe the boat will get a reprieve. Maybe the thrill of hooking that one really giant fish will help override all feelings of guilt and common sense.

I hope so.

Have you had a similar experience to Steve’s? A dream that didn’t exactly pan out when it became reality?

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Written by Perko

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