Birthdays. We all have them, right? For the past few hours, I’ve been trying to see how many birthdays I could remember. Of course there are a few that stick out. My surprise 13th birthday at the lake is one. Another would be my 16th. (The first place I went after receiving my drivers license wasn’t my girlfriend’s house, it was Jack Peek’s Sales, a lawnmower place in Palmetto. Man, did I catch some crap for that.) Add to that the countless birthday memories with the family huddled around one cake or another talking and laughing, and I don’t think I’ve had a bad birthday.

As I sat here recounting birthday memories, I couldn’t help but reach under my bed for the logbook from my 2004 sailing trip. I remember my 21st birthday as though it were yesterday…

I awoke around 0830 and promptly lost my boat hook to the Manatee River current. Anchor weighed by 0900, and I was out of Tampa Bay within two hours. The 30 mile trip between Tampa Bay and Venice proved to be the best sail of the trip so far, and the best birthday present I could ask for. Blue skies, and a solid 15 knot Westerly made for an amazing day on the water.

After docking at Venice’s free city dock, I proceeded to try and find some dinner. There was a nice seafood place down by the water that I had set my cap for. However, on the way there I was almost run over by 3 bicyclists…who then began shouting my name. Turns out it was a few guys I had met a week before in Clearwater.

Venice is a rather small town, so by the time we had secured an extra bike and ridden into town, the good restaurants were locking up. We had to resort to driving through the Wendy’s drive through on our bikes. But Wendy’s wouldn’t serve us. So we went to Taco Bell. It took some pleading, but they finally decided to let us order and we then proceeded to sit on the curb and eat my birthday meal.

Not exactly the way I had pictured my 21st, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That summer was all about learning to embrace and cherish the ‘unexpected’. As I continued to flip through my logbook, I stumbled across this entry that I’ve only shared with a few people.

All over the world right now people are rushing here, or rushing there. The roads are filled with cars & people trying to get places. I stand on the bow of my boat and close my eyes. I hear only the hum of the breeze and the hull cutting through the waves. I open my eyes and see a vast expanse of water. No land. No people. Only the occasional dolphin or man-of-war. As I stand here, on a tiny sailboat in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, moving along at 5 miles per hour, I’m not trying to get anywhere. I’m already here.

It’s been five years since that trip. Sometimes I look back at the pictures, and feel like I’m still there. Other times, I don’t even recognize the person I was then. My life is completely different now. So is most of yours. I guess a birthday is as good a time as any to ponder these things, and I can’t help but wonder…Are we busy trying to get somewhere, or are we already there?