Longevity logo


Everyone measures success differently.

By Mark GagnonPublished 2 years ago 4 min read

An elderly gentleman casually strolled around the perimeter of the gallery, admiring the paintings. He would stop in front of each one, read the placard describing who the artist was, the year it was painted, and the title of the work. There were very few people visiting the gallery on a weekday morning, so he could take as long as he wanted, drinking in each one’s unique beauty. The only distractions came from a passing guard striding by on his rounds or a docent asking if he needed any help. Each painting portrayed a different scene, but used the ocean as a backdrop.

Born in a seafaring town on the rocky Maine coast, he grew up with the smell of salty air and the sound of waves crashing against the shore. The seafaring men in town never seemed to run out of harrowing stories of how they barely survived gale force winds and waves the size of mountains. He longed for the day he was old enough to join them aboard a fishing trawler or possibly a behemoth cargo hauler plying the great oceans of the world.

Life is full of twists and turns and the old man experienced more than his share. Before he reached an age where he could work on a boat, his family moved from Maine to Nebraska. As a boy, he was an excellent student and received a full scholarship to the University of Nebraska, where he studied business and finance. He still planned to go to sea, just as a captain or shipowner instead of a deckhand.

He had many opportunities to date, fall in love, marry, and settle down, but the lines from the song Brandy by Looking Glass rang true to him.

“Brandy, you’re a fine girl. What a good wife you would be, but my life, my love, and my lady is the sea.”

Upon graduation, the future old man secured a position with a freight forwarding company that shipped goods all over the world. It was a wonderful opportunity for him to learn the ins and outs of the shipping business. The longer he remained with the company, the more responsibilities he was given.

Now in his early forties, he continued to climb the corporate ladder, garnering promotion after promotion. The closer he got to the top rung, the further away the ocean became. At fifty-five, he moved into the corner office as the new CEO. The company thrived under his leadership. During his tenure, the old man logged thousands of miles on aircraft but not a single trip aboard a ship. Ships are for cargo; planes are for busy executives with no time for slow-moving vessels.

It happens to us all. No matter how successful or important we may become, time always wins the race. Now in his mid-sixties, it was time for the old man to step aside for a younger, more robust version of himself to assume the reigns of command. He wasn’t happy about the change, but he knew it was his only option. At his retirement party, he graciously accepted the best wishes of his coworkers and bid the corporate world farewell.

Day after day he sat alone in his large house, staring out the windows at the flat grass-covered fields surrounding his estate. He had never married, and his parents were long dead. The solitude didn’t bother him, but there was one thing that did. After all these years, he still missed the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks and the smell of salt in the air. It was time to return home.

The new house was within walking distance from the local art gallery and the old man made the trek several times a week. He would leave his cottage and follow the path along the rocky shore, listening to the crashing waves and breathing in the salt air. At the gallery, the old man stood in front of each picture and gazed at the scenes they portrayed. Every painting was unique, but they all had one recurring background—the ocean in all its majesty.

People came from all over to attend the old man’s funeral. Speakers eulogized him as a titan of industry and a friend to those who worked for him. What they would never know is that he considered himself a failure for not following his dreams. His life, his love, and his lady was the sea.


About the Creator

Mark Gagnon

I have spent most of my life traveling the US and abroad. Now it's time to create what I hope are interesting fictional stories.

I have 2 books on Amazon, Mitigating Circumstances and Short Stories for Open Minds.

Reader insights

Be the first to share your insights about this piece.

How does it work?

Add your insights


There are no comments for this story

Be the first to respond and start the conversation.

Sign in to comment

    Find us on social media

    Miscellaneous links

    • Explore
    • Contact
    • Privacy Policy
    • Terms of Use
    • Support

    © 2024 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.