When I was a young boy I read a short book about an Alaskan native boy who carved a canoe with passenger. The canoe had a brass plate attached to the bottom. The plate was engraved “put me back in the water, I am going to the sea.” The boy then released the little boat in a nearby stream. The book detailed the trials and travails of the little boat as it made it’s way over the following years. The animals and people the little boat encountered and the adventures involved its finally reaching the Gulf of Mexico.
I enjoyed the little book as a boy reading exotic adventures. Many years later the real meaning of the little book came to me. As I carried my infant son from the hospital room I was already dreading his fate at the cruel hands of the world. I cringed to think of the taunting of childhood, the anxieties of teenage and the fast buck artists awaiting a young man starting out in life. I wanted the characters who would make up my son’s world to put him back on his path without damage, help him along his path as he made his way though life.
Alas, I know that life is a mixed bag of joys and heartbreaks which steel the character and callous the feelings. The process is painful but a necessary part of the human condition. We cannot shield our children from life’s hard knocks.
Though this runs the essence of the human experience, Time. Now when I see my grandchildren I see them as little boats sailing into the far future, a future that I will only partially share. Not knowing the world, they sail happily from one happy Time to the next.