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Max Roytenberg

Max Roytenberg: Missing The Boat

by Max Roytenberg, posted October 19, 2014, Vancouver, Canada.



Don’t you just hate it when you arrive at your point of departure for a planned getaway only to find that the conveyance that you contracted for at great expense and inconvenience has already departed, WITHOUT YOU? Darn, darn, DARN!


In my younger years I always had so much on my agenda that, as often as not, I was late. So I did miss a few appointments, and a few departures. More than that, as time went on I realized that in spite of my full agenda, there were a great many events that were important to me, for which I was a no-show. Well, we can’t dance at all the weddings-I know that- but comparing notes with my contemporaries, and hearing their tales of growing up, I often wonder where the heck I was. How come I was “missing in action”?


Growing up, and having a professional life, I realized, after a time, how important, how necessary, how crucial it was for me to have a secretary who cared about doing a good job for me. Prioritizing and organizing and multi-tasking, they were marvels of efficiency. I could never have made it through those times without that kind of help. That input multiplied my effectiveness many times over. We really need that kind of help in our personal lives, too, if we don’t want to keep missing the boat. I realize now that lack was the reason I was so often “missing in action”.


Well, most of us don’t have that kind of help in our personal lives, particularly in our younger years, too often ignoring parental static. So, sometimes, we do “miss the boat” and often have to go scrambling to make up for our errors. Growing up in Winnipeg, where was I when the gang was at Nordic’s, playing pool; at the Good Earth after the movies at the College theatre; part of the crowd at the baseball and football games? I do remember being there when Meltzer led St. Johns Tech to the high school football championship and I chorused in the operettas. But, overall, I was just somewhere else. And then I left after college and totally lost the train of thought in my home town. When I meet the survivors these days, it is my Bride who has to fill me in on where all the bodies are buried. She stayed behind and lived the dramas and the sequels.


It is kind of interesting that, when you quit all the wandering, it is to your hometown that one is drawn. My days in Winnipeg were but a small fraction of my lifespan on this earth, and yet I am drawn back irresistibly to my past, hungry for knowledge of how things turned out for the main actors, and even the bit players, in my hometown scenario. What happened to the heroes, and did the villains get their just desserts?


A central feature of my philosophy of life today is the embrace of the idea that there is always room for second chances. There is always the possibility that even if you have to take the boat at a later date, after having missed it at an earlier time, there can remain something worthwhile at your destination when you finally get there.


Even though I departed Winnipeg many years ago, I was tied to it by ties of family, and highly personal unfinished business. I have always looked on Winnipeg as a special place. This was because of the way the people who were raised there in my generation, from within my ethnic group, felt about their home town. We, many of us, were imbued with a sense of belonging to community that had our backs, whatever the outcome. We felt we were facing the outside world as part of a group within which we had inherent and sympathetic membership. It is difficult to put into words, but many of us felt that sense of belonging, (I have discussed it with some,) no matter where we were. Even if we rarely had cause to call upon that credit, it was there in our account.


For me, personally, I was always drawn back to Winnipeg. I had left someone behind there for whom I had felt deeply, a feeling that had never been fully articulated. It was another instance, a big one for me, where I had “missed the boat”. The object of my affections, to whom I had never stated my feelings or intentions, had obviously gone on with her life, as I had with mine. Later approaches that I made were similarly inarticulate, tied up, as we both were, in binding relationships. At the age of seventy-one, then newly unencumbered, knowing that my future hope was free as well; I chartered that “missed boat” and headed for an unpredictable destination in the waters of Winnipeg. I cashed in some of my relationship chips to make my approaches to the harbour. Eternally grateful I am, that that voyage ended up as a honeymoon cruise.


I can report today, that although my agenda continues to be full, it is being managed by an expert. Any boats we miss have already been crossed off our list. If I am “missing in action” it is because my Bride has left me to doze in my favourite chair. We lead a life full of activity and adventuring, drawing on and enjoying the assets gathered during our separate wanderings before we found, together, the blessed port where we have safely moored our lifeboat.


Have you “missed the boat”? Is there someone or something you have left behind? It is never too late for second chances.


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