Captains on the Ocean of Life

How could he know this new dawn’s light would change his life forever? Set sail to sea but pulled off course by the light of golden treasure…

—from “The Unforgiven III” by Metallica

We are all as ships’ captains, sailing freely on the sea, guided by the golden light of the ever-setting sun in the distance. If we point our ship toward the eternal sunset, its light guides us always toward our destination—which we eventually learn is no destination at all, but rather a journey of continual growth and improvement.

The wind stays at our backs if we remain steadfast at the rudder, and we move surely and swiftly that way. This takes great faith, intention, and determination, for the journey is long.

The water all around us stretches like shimmering golden carpet beneath the blue ceiling of the sky. Multitudes of ships, each with a single captain/passenger, point in every direction and sail at different speeds—each one toward sparkling gold. Some move toward the sunset and many more move away, against the perpetual easterly wind, sometimes in diagonals or even straight sideways as if keeping the light to one side so as to avoid losing it completely.

There is much danger of collision in these erratic courses.

Gold is sparkling all around us: in every direction, the water-reflected light from its Source dances on the ocean.

In our lifelong quest for the light, we are often distracted by the promise of gold to be had today, or tomorrow, or next year. Perhaps we know at our core that we will never reach our true goal in this lifetime anyway, so these little excursions seem to be worth our time and effort.

Grown accustomed to the little lights flickering everywhere, we sometimes catch a very bright glimpse of gold and gasp, “Oh! It’s so close! What a find!” And so we turn our rudder and pursue the unusually bright light we see close at hand.

Often in our pursuit, the light from this newfound “treasure” flickers as waves enturbulate the surface between us and it. Now it’s there, now it’s not. “No, there! I see it!” we exclaim, and our faith—in the attainment of this new goal—increases. Our goal becomes the attainment of gold, here and now, so we can rest from our journey and rejoice that we have found something worthwhile.

Ships travel every which way, running down fool’s gold, running down the reflection of the light—the reflection that promises so much, which delivers nothing but the fleeting joy of pursuit and can never be reached.

When the fool’s gold we seek disappears (as it always does, sooner or later), we find ourselves lost. Pointed in the wrong direction. Isolated. Confused. In the worst moments, we risk colliding with other ships or unseen rocks below the enturbulated surface.

Hidden enturbulation sometimes causes the shiniest “gold.”

None of this ocean-bound gold has substance, and none of it rewards effort and pursuit, except to teach two lessons: first, that shimmering light can signal danger instead of treasure, and second, that only faith and steadfastness in the Source can bring peace and harmony among captains.

The ocean exists to carry us toward our eventual goal, and its golden illusions are a necessary part of its nature. The ocean is not evil, and neither are its sparkles. Evil comes when captains risk their ships, and those of others, by ignoring the beauty of the ever-unchanging sunset and forsaking its goodness in the pursuit of the illusions that lie all around—without regard for others.

And it is so easy to do.

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