Poem: Missing the Boat

It is not so much that the boat passed
and you failed to notice it.
It is more like the boat stopping
directly outside your bedroom window,
the captain blowing the signal-horn,
the band playing a rousing march.

The boat shouted, waving bright flags,
its silver hull blinding in the sunlight.

But you had this idea you were going by train.

You kept checking the time-table,
digging for tracks.

And the boat got tired of you,
so tired it pulled up the anchor
and raised the ramp.

The boat bobbed into the distance,
shrinking like a toy—
at which point you probably realized
you had always loved the sea.

Naomi Shihab Nye, Different Ways to Pray- Breitenbush Publications, 1980

I love how this poem points to us being blinded by our attachment to things being a certain way – the many good and beautiful experiences that we might miss through such an attachment. Such a sense of certainty builds a shield around us, blocking the intuition of the heart, and while this can feel safe, Shihab Nye’s humorous poem shows how this ‘safe’ certainty can blind us to the full spectrum of what is before us, limiting our experience of life. May we be open, curious, and vulnerable enough to entertain other possibilities. 

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