“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore.”

— Vincent Van Gogh

How often do we allow our fear or dread of leaving safety to impede us in fully living our lives?  Being human has its challenges and life is often messy, but should we let our dread of the unknown hold us back from being truly alive?

I picture a small village by the sea.  There is soil for growing vegetables and fruit.  There is enough grass to allow a few animals to graze.  In the distance, beneath the rolling waves, another whole world lies just out of reach — a world filled with wonderful, nourishing creatures in numbers so great that they can feed the whole town and still go on forever.  The people in the village live a good life, but they long for something more — something that lies just beyond the land and under the water.  Life in the village has been good.  It has been safe.  Still, there is something that stirs in a few of the people.  They are fishermen, but they do not yet know it.  No matter how good their life ashore might be, there is some passion that draws them to the sea.  “Don’t go,” they are told, “the sea is dangerous and it can swallow you up.”  This is good advice for those who are shore-dwellers; but there are some who simply need to follow the call to step off the shore and into the world beyond.  Finally, when the call becomes to loud to ignore, the fishermen climb into their boat and set sail for the open water.  The work is hard and they find that the warnings were true.  It is treacherous to venture beyond the world we know and into another; but the fishermen find that the rewards are far greater than the dangers.  They return to the village with marvelous creatures, fish and shellfish and octopus.  The whole village rejoices at the new flavors and the nourishment they bring that enhances their way of life.

How often do we sit safely on the shore and do all in our power to drown out the call to move beyond our comfort zone?  How many times do we allow our fear of the unknown to limit our ability to live fully?  How often do we settle for something that is good and deny ourselves something that is far better?  Being human has its challenges.  Life is often messy.  If we can understand this and still listen to the music that touches our souls and follow its sound into places that might seem frightening, we might have the chance to discover what it means to truly live our lives rather than settling for less than we really are meant to be.  In order to grow, we must be willing to leave the safety of dry land and set out for someplace different.  It may seem frightening, but it is unavoidable.  No matter how good life might be on shore, if you were born to be a fisherman, you will always long for the sea.