I’m sure it was Poe who said that. Either way, it’s on the internet now so it doesn’t matter, right?!
Well, the internet lies! One of my favorite quotes has fallen victim to this trend of misattribution. It has been attributed to Mark Twain, rather than H. Jackson Brown’s mother. I’ve never heard of this author or his mother until I started to write this post, but now I’m a fan of hers and just might add his book to my summer reading list.
I discovered this quote a decade ago when I showed up to join the shore component of my SEA Semester class. At the time, I was recently single and newly motivated to remove the self-imposed boundaries of my comfort zone. In order to participate in this program, I had broken the lease on my apartment, packed everything into a storage unit, and flown across the country a few hours after the New Year’s countdown. I was the first student to arrive on campus and the caretaker let me into E House, my home for the coming six weeks. As I climbed the stairs I paused on the landing. Someone had hand painted the quote to go along with a tall-ship scene and it couldn’t have been more perfect.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Recently we met the folks aboard SV Summer. While we chatted, they told me about the previous owner of their boat. He loved the boat and dreamed of sailing south from Washington. Eventually he realized that he was not physically able to do that anymore and it was time to sell the boat. After the sale was finalized, he left a note aboard Summer for our friends to find. Without saying much, he said it all.
“Sail the boat.
Free the boat.
Something about both quotes reaches through the sailing motif and grabs hold of my shoulders to shake me awake. I write a bunch of nonsense on this blog, none of which will ever be quoted, and sometimes I need a reminder that the projects weighing me down shouldn’t have the upper hand.
So let’s hear your favorite quotes! And remember what Mark Twain actually* said, “It is my belief that nearly any invented quotation, played with confidence, stands a good chance to deceive.”