We are born from water and to water we will one day return. Though terrestrially based, the voyage of our lives has a decidedly maritime bent. We seek refuge in placid harbors, are cast about by roiling oceans, explore meandering inland rivers, and submerge into the deepest holes. We must navigate waterways with the aplomb of a seasoned mariner, even if we inhabit a high desert environment. To survive this voyage, we must be the correct nautical vessel, ever changing to adapt to the vicissitudes of a life at sea.
In our youth, we are carried in the hold of our caregivers, largely shielded from the fury of stormy seas. Of course, we have no appreciation for the safety afforded us, nor for the immensity of the dangers which lurk without and beneath. Awed and emboldened by the raw energy and power of the ocean of life, we sneak over the gunwales, fortunate to be plucked out of the unforgiving depths by those that love and protect us. It is not until much later that we understand that whitecaps are a warning sign and not an invitation.
As adolescents, we assume control of the helm for the first time, under the uneasy and watchful eyes of our ersatz captains. As our hulls slide off the wharf, we may be christened by whacks of champagne to the head. If we are lucky, we have tugboats to guide us from the relative safety of the anchorage out into the open ocean. We chafe under the lines that still bind us to their cleats, lament the slow passage, are eager for the adventures that await us once land is out of sight.
As we round the jetty, we begin to assume our default form, one that has been theretofore forged in the shipyards of our home port. Although we are capable of evolution and repair and, indeed, such is critical to staying afloat, we have tendencies that come to the fore as we mature. Some are cigarette boats, recklessly flitting over the surface of the water, exhilarating to witness, but prone to magnificent crashes. Others are graceful sloops, slicing undeterred through chop, keen to be carried by the shifting winds, comfortable with the uncertainty of their eventual destination. We may return to shore to trade out one watercraft for another, as circumstances demand. One cannot have a deep draught when plying shallow reefs.
At a certain juncture, many of us are reconfigured from purely sporting boats to more practical craft. We may be ships laden with cargo, no longer as nimble, but capable of carrying our charges great distances through tyrannical typhoons. Some may become megayachts, pinnacles of technology, luxury, and splendor. Or else we can be grand galleons, more delicate, but acute reminders of history and beauty. No matter the form, rust and rot and barnacles set in eventually, although these can be kept at bay with routine maintenance.
After our propellers make their last rotation or our sails are lowered for the final time, our ashes are scattered to the breeze or our corporeal forms interred. Regardless, the pieces of us will once again reunite with the two hydrogen and one oxygen atoms upon which our lives were built. Then part of the hydrologic cycle, we will be the waves upon which our descendants will ride.