The line is the same distance away. The sun sets for the 2539th time since his journey began. The water is still the same shade of blue its always been. The water dripping from his eyes onto his cheeks identical to the water in the sea. The waves still make the same sound as they make contact with the hull of his boat. His heart still bears the weight of those he left behind.
He’s travelled north, following the line. He holds his thumb to his nose, shuts his left eye and stretches his arm out to measure the distance to the line. It never gets closer, yet it never gets farther. This man has made it around the earth 384 times. The clock ticks on the wall behind him, the only sound that accompanied him in his first years that were not part of the sea. The exact same clock that turned his life to time, time his only goal was to escape. Frustration surges through him as he spots another island. An invitation to stop. To take a break. He’s been to America thousands of times on this little boat he’s made his home. He’s been featured on the front page of every magazine more times than one can count, but the line still stays the same length away. Every man would love to travel with him, yet he remains alone. Alone in his misery of not being able to reach his life’s goal. He has written books, watched every TV show you can think of. Yet all the characters he relates to are the ones who’ve never reached their dreams. He has learned countless languages, yet he finds himself speechless whenever he comes across the same people he's met countless times from his travels around the world. All the men look up to him, they all believe he lives the most fruitful life, yet he believes he’s failed. He is the richest man that has ever existed, but he has not seen what lies at the edge of the Earth.
Here. As he makes a stop at the first place he’s ever called home. The wind, the water, the sand. The sand beneath his feet, made hot by the sun and colder by the water. The wind whipping through his hair, inviting grains of sand to settle within the tiny strands of his disheveled hair. He walks up, ignoring the first of the greetings he gets. He’s become sick of the people he’s been forced to meet. Sick of the faces he’s seen. Sick of the life he’s been living.
The man walked on to find a bus terminal. No driver would let him in in his condition-- filthy hair, washed out clothes, and so he made it a point to pay a good amount to the bus driver. He got off at his stop and walked home towards his house. His parents still lived there, but he set off when he was 18-- attempting to discover what lay behind the line.
He pressed the doorbell, sat down on the porch and enjoyed the view. Trees were scarce in the sea so every time he saw one, it lifted his spirits a little. Autumn had come to his home, turning the green leaves orange, filling the ground with fire. He bent down to reach for one, twisting the stem in his hands, and then crushed it. Pieces of the leaf fell down onto the ground, and somehow this gave him satisfaction. As if on cue, his mother came and opened the door. The man stands up and greets his mother. He’s been gone for months, yet as he greets her, he doesn’t even bother to look at her face.
“Where’s dad?” he asked, his tone somehow failing to convey respect.
“Son, I have to tell you something,” his mom says. The man senses a pained undertone, and so he lifts his head to face his mother. Tears pool on the bottom of her eyes, threatening to fall down.
“What happened?” he asks, concern finding its way into his voice.
“I’m sorry, but I had no way to contact you. Your father, he’s gone. But he left this for you.” His mom’s voice broke as she reached into her pocket to collect a letter. The man let this realisation seep into him. He was crushed, he felt broken, pieces of him falling to the floor. He bent down as if to pick them up. His mom bent down next to him. “I’ll leave this with you,” she whispers as she hands him the letter. The man takes it, holds it in his hands, his finger tracing his fathers handwriting.
He opens the letter, the tears beginning to settle in his eyes.
It may be a while before you read this, but I want you to know that I love you. I see your face every time you come home. I see the pain you bring with you, the emptiness in your eyes. I want you to know that the dream you’ve been chasing, that line, you’ve crossed it. So many times. So, so many times. Son, the Earth is round. On the first day you set sail, the second you reached the line, you’ve been crossing it ever since. I want you to know that I had that same dream when I was young, and I chased it, just like you did. I chased the line for years, until someone had opened my eyes to the realisation-- your mother. She helped me see clearly.
I wanted you to come to this realisation on your own-- but it’s been years and years since you set off, and I fear for you. I fear that you’ve lost sight of the goal, like I have. Look at all the progress you’ve made, son. You have accomplished what no other man has accomplished. Your story is unique, and yet you seem miserable. I hope this new discovery shines light on your next. I hope you find the same things I did. Love, family, a home, and even more.
His happiness lived on the edge of the line-- a line that without realising, he’s crossed many times. A line that he’s befriended thousands of times. A line that has given him all the riches every man could ask for. A line that’s brought him out of the loneliness of the life he lived before. The same line he made his goal 2539 days ago, and he’s been crossing it every second since.
This line turned him blind, made him ignore all the progress he made. This line stole from him as much as it gave for it turned his life into time, his fire into desperateness. And slowly, without realising, his goal had changed. He knew this now. He spent the entirety of his life so focused on his goal, he forgot to live.
He put the letter down, and created a new goal: To live life to the fullest. No more boats, no more leaving. His life would now have permanence, and he would open the doors to all the beautiful things it would offer him-- love, family, a home, wonder, and all the things his father had hoped for him. He would now live.
BY denise santiago