Sailing Away

A few days ago, I was exercising on an elliptical machine at Axiom Gym. Styx was blaring “Come Sail Away” on my MP3 player and it stirred a long list of memories. Some happy, some sad.

Around age 14, Styx visited my hometown for a live concert. A friend of mine had parents in the 1% club and delivered us to the show in a shiny white Rolls Royce. It was the first and last time my rear-end traveled in such luxury. Hysteria flourished through the crowd with expectations of the band emerging from the fine ride. I had never seen so many beautiful mature women, at least 18 years old, trying to get to that car. Our exit from the auto sucked the air out of the mob like a needle to a balloon. We wandered well past the fairground doors and tried to emulate rock stars by smoking some gooey green buds. With a maximum buzz, my concert virginity was lost to Styx.

Sometime in my late 20’s, I remember seeing the same band at a local fair. At that time, my journey in life was to be an aspiring salesman at Micron Technology. As an empowered young executive, the company sent me sailing into the Southeastern United States to find homes for our semiconductors. I had nine rock star years with that company and will be forever grateful. Reflections in those waves sparks some fine memories.

In my late 30’s the anvil of alcohol finally pulled my father underwater. On a surreal sunny day in June, I arrived at his final resting place. As I walked up to the grave site, “Come Sail Away” was playing on my brother’s car stereo. It was such a moment. I wondered where he had gone and where I was going. His death inspired me to purge alcohol from my life but I was sailing without the safety net of a father. These new uncharted waters took me on a distinctly different journey. Life without alcohol has much more depth.

My current journey is full of rich and satisfying moments. Just yesterday, I was enjoying a latte with a friend when an older lady approached me in the coffee shop. She read my book and told me how much she enjoyed the story. I felt like a rock star. The day before, a stranger heard a radio interview in Colorado and called to invite me to speak at an event in April. Earlier in the week, a radio host from Chico shared a sad story about her dying husband. After returning from a recent Camino, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. After our interview, she emailed me a picture of him in hospice holding his walking stick. The subject line was, “My Precious Pilgrim.”

I truly feel that this book and speaking opportunities are creating a sail that is pulling me away from my comfort zones into an amazing place. I am not sure where it goes and I quite frankly do not care. The joy is in the moment.

The band summarized the feeling with the following first verse:

I’m sailing away, set an open course for the virgin sea
‘Cause I’ve got to be free, free to face the life that’s ahead of me
On board, I’m the captain, so climb aboard
We’ll search for tomorrow on every shore
And I’ll try, oh Lord, I’ll try to carry on

I recently saw an advertisement for Styx. They are playing the Morrison Center in Boise on 1/29/14.