Where I write

Where I write

May 24, 2014

Life is Like a Trip Down the Panama Canal

While traveling in a boat down the  Panama Canal one sunny and humid afternoon last week I began to compare the passageway between two oceans to the journey we all take between life and death.

It takes hours to travel through the canal, years to complete a life. Both rides go way too fast. Poof. It is over before you know it. The important thing is to enjoy the ride even if it gets hot, or slow, or crowded, or has yucky food, because there are also moments of beauty, laughter and awe. A trip down the Panama Canal is a once in a lifetime experience, just as each of us are a once in a lifetime experience. We are like snowflakes, but good luck finding any snowflakes in Panama, land of rain, jungles and mosquitoes.

 There were other people on the cruise down the canal. A solo journey would have been downright lonesome. Of course, not everyone I met was my cup of tea, but then, as much as it pains me to admit it, I'm not everyones cup of tea, either.  Some people were friendly but others were annoying, like the grumpy old man who took my seat when I stood  to get water. But there was also a young woman who told me about her small Panamanian village. Sweet. Each person made the trip more enriching.

 Next time you meet a, shall we say, complicated person, you might say "He or she sure enriched my experience of life." This might work better than saying I wish I could sink him or her to the bottom of the sea. Or at least try this. I'm not sure it works. Next time I meet a grumpy old man, I'll try it out.

There are many other boats of all shapes and sizes on the canal.  Some may call it simple scheduling, others may say divine order, fate, whatever the case, we were all in the water together at that particular time and space. It would have been quicker, less hassle, without other boats,  but not as rich or interesting. Life isn't suppose to be just smooth sailing though there are times I really wish someone would change those rules.

Besides, the boats decorated the landscape. We admired the size and width of the cargo ship, the sleekness of a sail boat. Challenges and experiences come and go in life, but without them wouldn't it all be so much less colorful? I know there are some experiences we wish hadn't had, but oh well, another ship will be coming soon and you might enjoy that one better.

We are born into one specific family. We had no choice in our younger years to sail through life side by side. Sometimes the boat can seem mighty small. We might wish we could just toss them overboard, but we don't cause we love them and there are crocodiles in the canal that could gobble them with one big bite. When you are all grown up, you can always jump on another boat and sail through life with a different group of people, but your family is still your first ship mates.

There are times when we love where we are in life. We are content.  Closed doors make us feel secure. Other times, we feel trapped. We just want to be set free. Whatever your perception, one thing is certain, life changes, and it's time to move on.


The doors swing open and we enter new worlds. We leave old experiences behind and face new challenges.

Eventually you make it to the other side. The passage way is complete and now it's open seas. Did you enjoy the ride?
In Panama City there is a park which has these giant and imposing plaques written in Spanish that tell of the building of the canal. Most of us don't have giant plaques that detail the stories of our lives, but that doesn't make your story any less important or special.
 Finally, I just have to put one more photo from Panama City. I visited old churches, shiny new buildings, a jungle park in the middle of the city, but this really grabbed my attention. 

A phone booth in  a public park. Now how often do you see that? Life is just full of surprises.




SunsetCindi said...

What a fabulous post!! An insightful way to share your travel adventures. So happy for you that you had this opportunity and love how you embrace life and live it to the max!

Mrs. Arent's Class said...

Really enjoyed this reflection Sue! You're a fabulous writer! Makes me want to sail the Panama Canal!

Mrs. Arent's Class said...

My comment identified me as Mrs. Arent because I used my school account! This is Pam Hanssen Arent. 😊

Rita A. said...

What a fun post. Eye-opening to life's treasures and taking note of the things in that life.

Dave Werth said...

Suzanne: C'est comme une pièce magnifiquement philosophique et chaque photo correspond au paragraphe si bien. Mon préféré de tout poste de tout le genre j'ai lu partout. Amour, Tracy