When things just fall into place for you
Two days ago, my husband, Bill, and I celebrated an important anniversary. Exactly seven years ago, I sailed to Bermuda on a cruise ship and met him at Dockyard by chance. I remember how it all began.
It was six months earlier. My first day of work on the ship was finally over. Late in the evening, I sat alone on the deck, resting after a hectic and difficult experience.
I looked at the dark, endless ocean for a long time.
“Nina, you have half a year ahead of you on this ship. What dream would you like to achieve?”
I looked thoughtfully at the bright spread of stars in the velvety sky and the purple, black roll of the swells below me.
I closed my eyes. My cherished dreams were sparkling comets rushing through my mind.
So much I wanted to do! How to decide? And then words formed in my mind: man and the ocean.
I shook my head. “Sounds a bit like Hemingway.”
Yet everything was clear and fell into place. This is what I wanted most of all: to meet an interesting man and to learn more about this wild ocean.
I am a big believer in setting goals. I believe that this is the only way to achieve something in life.
I achieved all my accomplishments in my career only because I always set a goal and stubbornly worked towards it.
I know how to formulate it, how to measure it and what steps to take to accomplish it. I have only one problem, I always set unrealistic goals.
I act according to a well-known saying: “Shoot for the moon.”
But I also believe: “Even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”
When I returned to the cabin, I wrote on a small piece of paper:
1, Meet an interesting man
2, Learn scuba diving.
I read it aloud and confidently said to myself: “So it will be!”
Over the next six months I changed ships three times, but I always took this piece of paper with me.
I pinned it to the wall of my cabin as a reminder of my desires.
But, every time I looked at it, I couldn’t explain to myself why I just wrote, “interesting”.
It was rather unusual criteria for the man I wanted to find.
Why didn’t I write, smart and great looking, or kind and generous, or funny and successful?
Why didn’t I write a whole list of qualities that were important to me?
I did not fully understand exactly what I put into the meaning of one of my two goals: interesting. What does that mean?
Must he do something unusual, some exotic work? A tiger trainer or an astronaut?
Speak with a French accent like Jacques Cousteau? I puzzled over the meaning of this word.
How can you find out if a man is interesting or not?
Of course, by talking with him, asking him about how he sees the world, trying to understand what he likes and why; you can ask about his tastes, his passions, his values and his life experience.
For me, an educated Russian woman who grew up in a house with an enormous library and in an environment where we all read and discussed the same books, a man of my dreams should also know and understand literature.
It was very important to me that when describing a situation I could say, “Why it’s just like an adventure from a Jack London novel!” or “This is as mystical as Herman Hesse” or “That has the power of a scene from Solzhenitsyn” and know that he understood what I was talking about.
And what are his interests? His career? Does he spend his free time sitting in a bar watching sports?
Is he an obsessed fisherman? Is he a workaholic? I wanted someone who would find time for me.
Does he know how to love? To be romantic, kind and caring? Where is he going in his life? Does he want to grow and improve? What are his dreams?
My “interesting man” gradually began to acquire more and more attributes. I sadly began to realise that it would be incredibly difficult to find this kind of person and most likely it was simply impossible.
Two weeks before my six months on the cruise ship was over, I was on my second date with Bill.
He picked me up in his boat and docked at the Harbourfront Restaurant at sunset.
Sitting by the water I politely asked him: “What do you like to do the most?”
He answered calmly and factually: “I love to swim with sharks.”
My eyes grew very wide. “What? How? Where? That’s so dangerous!”
I pushed back from the table. Then I began to smile. “Nina, you wanted to meet an interesting man …”
Bill told me he was a scuba-diving instructor for many years and is most comfortable in the ocean.
He now travels to the most remote spots on the planet in search of sharks.
“What else?” I was smiling openly now.
He shrugged. “I’m a blues musician. I sing and play guitar and harmonica. Perhaps you’d like to listen to one of my albums sometime?”
I thought: “He is much more than interesting. He is unusual. Talented. Original. He is one of a kind, like a rare fish.”
I lay listening to his music while returning to New York on the ship.
Beside me was another gift, one of his favourite books, Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Congratulations, my love on our seventh anniversary!
Thank you for being with me in joy and sorrow, for the incredible adventures we have shared, for making me laugh, for generously introducing me to the underwater world you love so much and for being more interesting and special than I ever dreamt.
• Nina London is a certified wellness and weight-management coach. Her mission is to support and inspire mature women to make positive changes in their body and mind. Share your inspirational stories with her at www.ninalondon.com