The Boat

The air smells like the inside of an abandoned crab's shell, salty and warm. I'm standing on a dock when I notice a boat thatís tied to the end, with a tall, flapping sail and a motor on the stern. I'm curious to see the inside, and nobody is around, so I step on board and sit in the cockpit. The engine easily starts when I turn the key in the ignition, and the boat abruptly accelerates backwards, away from the dock. Suddenly Iím moving forward. Driven by both the wind and the motor, the boat flies smoothly across the waves.

Ahead of me there's a small wooden building at the end of a long dock that extends into the water. The boat is quickly heading towards it, so I try to turn the wheel, but something is stuck, and I don't know how to slow down. Within a couple of seconds the little abode is directly before me, only feet away. Panic grips my body as the vessel's bow tears a giant hole through the flimsy side of the building. The boat has so much power that it flies right through the shed with a deafening crash. Planks of wood and water spray everywhere as the boat rips through the outer wall and I crash back into the water on the other side...

This is the condensed, accurate version of a mistake I really made on August 21, 1994, as documented in my dream journal. Thereís one main thing that sets my dream apart from real life (albeit I havenít yet stolen any vehicles): the lack of consequences. I awoke before having to deal with the aftermath of my mistake, but I know it would have been a challenge to confront the owners of the building and boat.

Although Iíve never erred to this degree in real life, I still make mistakes every single day. And there are consequences for the ones I commit in my conscious state. When I was adding black pepper to dinnerís soup and the lid to the shaker popped off, I had to take responsibility for serving my family an extra-spicy meal; when I called someone by the wrong name, I had to endure the embarrassment; when I backed my dadís truck into a neighborís new garden wall (knocking some bricks loose) I incurred the irritation of the angry owner--so I apologized, negotiated a deal, and bartered with a professional mason to repair the damage.

Part of me wishes life were as easy as a dream, so that I could always wake up just in the nick of time. Yet, I wonder how valuable my life would really be? It would be a blur of adventure, but too superficial, for a vital element of my development is gleaning wisdom from setbacks, especially those that I cause myself. Everyone makes mistakes, but each person deals with them differently, reflecting their true character.

Thus in one realm of my life I steal boats and am free from punishment. Yet in my day-to-day interactions and decisions I make mistakes that have consequences, and by taking responsibility for them I can gain some truths about life (while still having fun in my dreams).

By Maya Seligman, written February 1995.

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