The Secret of the Sea

We clawed open our presents, guzzled stacks of food and lounged around the house most of the day. It was Christmas. Overall, it was a success, though. No arguments or disagreements sparked into full-out screaming matches or plate-tossing contests. Everyone was on their best behavior.

Later in the night, my dad and I tinkered around with my (his) film camera: Canon AE-1 program. After a new roll of film, a battery and guidance from the online manual, the camera was revived. Then the conversation led to my dad pulling out his high-school yearbook from his tenure in Vermont. This same camera was pictured in it, and most likely, the primary camera used to capture most of the high school photos.

We flipped the pages and landed on my dad’s senior page. His hair was surfer length, he sported a wide grin, and in one picture, he held up a surfer magazine while trudging through the thick Vermont snow. This pictured man was a fellow my dad slightly hid from me when growing up, but nonetheless, it was his authentic soul.

My dad proceeded to reflect on this period, yearning to revisit it again. With that, one’s soul never leaves them, and that’s why we’re trekking up to Vermont tomorrow. A few days on the mountain–in nature–will revive one’s core, despite the cold temperature. It’s my dad’s old stomping grounds, along with the ocean, and I hope he revisits it more in the upcoming year.

The quote on my dad’s yearbook page was an excerpt from Henry Longfellow’s poem, The Secret of the Sea. It read: “‘Wouldst thou,’–so the helmsman answered,
‘Learn the secret of the sea? Only those who brave its dangers, Comprehend its mystery!'” Years laters, my dad rereads his quote. I think he now understands the mystery.

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