When I was a boy, Nobska Light, the lighthouse in Woods Hole, Mass., was a special place for me. The lighthouse sits high up on a promontory with a spectacular view overlooking Vineyard Sound and the always busy entrance to Woods Hole, bustling with boats. To the north is Boston and the rest of New England and to the south are the Elizabeth Islands that stretch out toward a distant horizon, beyond which lies Long Island Sound and New York City and the world.
When I was a boy, that distant horizon to the south was full of intrigue for me. I grew up a Cape Codder and so could lay claim to its heritage that voyaging off into the distance was in my blood — what with the Cape’s history of whaling around the Horn in far flung places. But I make no such claim. To my knowledge, no one in my family was ever handy with a harpoon, although we have all been sailors. But I do lay claim to the thrill that distant horizon had for me as a boy. What was beyond it, what marvels lay in wait for the brave soul who ventured thither, what wondrous experiences could be claimed if only one had the courage to go forth? That was the hold it had on me.
Now, at 70 years old, I’ve been well beyond that oh-so-far horizon — to many places and even to many other countries, if not other continents, and the experiences have been many and varied and colorful, and I have appreciated them all. But I do question whether the total stack and weight of all of them could ever measure up to the grand expectations of that wide-eyed boy looking out to a distant horizon and wondering what lay beyond?
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