The world is quiet. The streets are empty, and the world is constricted with silent tension. Each morning we awake with news on the current spread of the virus, and each evening we go to sleep, with images of new stories and data sheets and charts dancing around in our heads. The world is silent outside of our doors, and we do what we can to be okay every day, both physically and mentally.
My father sits beside me on the couch, just a few feet away. His glasses fasten snug to his nose as he stares intently at his laptop that has been on and running for the past nine hours. Through the reflection of his glasses I can see strings of code; lines and lines of numbers, letters and symbols that remind me of my freshman year, when I failed the intro coding class. My father stares at them the way a captain gazes at the stars, or the way a sculptor looks upon a slab of stone; while it is merely there to any common person, to them it is something that can be crafted and navigated. I could never hope to navigate these waters as he does, and yet he does it each day. Every day.
My father is a computer programmer. Since I was an infant, my father has worked the same career. With consistency and steadiness that I have always taken for granted, I watched as my father continued to be at home each day, never having to clock in at an office or get stuck in the rush hour traffic. For twenty years, I have known the same father, who has worked the same job and has provided steadiness and consistency for my family. He can work from anywhere, and so he does. During my middle school years, my family roamed nomadically around the country in an RV, exploring the country, adoring its beauty, and finding purpose on the road, rather than in a rooted home. I was raised hearing and living the words of Isabelle Eberhardt, for I too was haunted by the thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere. I existed everywhere; I was rooted in nothing. Consistency was a foreign concept. It was meaningless.
Except when it came to my father.
After every long day drifting the streets of a new city, or traversing the inner workings of a national park, and my family and I would return to the RV with dragging feet and heavy eyes, my father would remain awake. He would work deep into the night, navigating the waters of computer code; keep his job, and the security of my family, afloat. He was consistently enough. He was consistently there for me, my mother, my siblings. He received thanks but needed none. He built us a life of adventure and intrigue, and only asked in return genuine appreciation for the country we saw through our young eyes. My father did these things out of love; and through it all, he kept us afloat.
Now, the world is quiet. The streets are empty and the world feels an overwhelming tension. The dreams in our heads are of casualties, shortages, and new cases, for we no longer dream of Montana skies or Carolina coasts with ease. It is harder now to think of these times, in a time that demands so much of our attention to be paid towards frightening things.
And yet, my father still keeps our boat afloat. He sits, and he navigates the cold waters of numbers and letters, slicing through with ease and determination, for he knows that by his work, our family can remain secure in such an insecure time. My father, who brought me to the bottoms of canyons, the peaks of mountains, the edges of cliff sides and the foundations of thundering ocean waves, continues to show me incredible sights. But rather than showing me sun-drenched elsewhere and never-ending pathways across the nation, he is showing me something even more special. With each passing day, in a quarantine that can bring out the worst of us, my father reveals to me what it is to be a good man. A supporter. A navigator. A provider and a selfless human being.
I sit on the couch of my home, and I see my father working at his computer. He takes a deep breath, leaves the room, and exits through the front door. My mother and I watch him through the front bay window as he stands at the edge of the house, still and unmoving. He watches the sun dip lower and lower below the horizon until it is gone from sight. He sips a glass of water and watches, still and unmoving.
He showed us the world when we were children. And while our heads were filled each night with memories of adventure and beauty, so too did my father see the same things. An adventurer, explorer, and traveler himself, I understand more each day that my father did not see the world any differently than I did. He must have been filled with the same amount of wonder and amazement by snowcapped mountain ranges and massive ocean swells. He must have felt all the things my siblings and I did, and more. Perhaps I was too selfish to realize that. I know he would have noticed something like that.
As he watches the sun by our house, I watch him, and I see with overwhelming certainty that I was raised by a man that knows no selfishness. I was raised by a man that will work endless hours a day for the ones he loves, and still find the time and strength to show his wife and children the great big world. A man like that deserves every ounce of appreciation, and will forever receive every ounce of my respect and admiration.
My father was and is a mighty navigator. Even in times of uncertainty and times of upheaval, there is still a consistency in my life that will not soon disappear. That consistency comes from my father. The pilot. The old sea captain. The Sunset Chaser.