Robert M. Manry, a copy editor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, once sailed from the United States to England in a 13½-foot sailboat! Thirty-two hundred miles across the North Atlantic in a boat so small you’d hesitate to take it out on Lake Michigan or Long Island Sound as small-craft warnings were flying.
For 78 days, Manry and his tiny 36-year-old sailboat battled one of the toughest stretches of salt water on earth. Gales blew the boat on its side. Manry tried to nap during the day and sailed at night so that he could try to avoid being run down and chopped into kindling and hamburger by great ocean-going steamers. On several occasions, he was washed over the side in heavy seas. And each time he’d haul himself back aboard by a lifeline he kept tied to himself in the boat. He suffered terrible hallucinations, the result of having to take so many pills to stay awake during the long nights.
Why? What made him do it? It wasn’t publicity. He went about the whole thing so quietly, practically no one knew what he was up to. He thought no one would pay attention to him, and that was fine with him.
The reason was that he had dreamed of sailing the Atlantic ever since he’d been a small boy. He bought the dinky old boat for $250. He completely rebuilt her, taught himself navigation, and practiced long-distance sailing on Lake Erie.
He told his wife the real reason for his embarking on so incredible a journey in so vulnerable a craft. He said to her, “There is a time when one must decide either to risk everything to fulfill one’s dreams or sit for the rest of one’s life in the backyard.” Now this is why Mr. Manry went sailing over the mountains of deep water in a boat only about twice the size of your bathtub. This is why he sat in his tiny open cockpit and weathered storms that caused the passengers to clear the weather decks of giant ocean liners. He was fulfilling a dream he’d carried in his heart since he’d been a small boy.
Well, offers for books and magazine articles poured in on him. Cleveland gave him a hero's welcome, as did the 20,000 people who wildly cheered the successful end of his voyage when he arrived in Falmouth, England. It’s been proposed to Congress that Manry’s boat, Tinkerbelle, be placed in the Smithsonian Institution alongside Charles Lindbergh’s plane, Spirit of St. Louis.
But this—all this fame and sudden stature in the eyes of the world—this was not why he made the trip. It was because he believes that there is a time when one must decide either to risk everything to fulfill one’s dreams or sit for the rest of one’s life in the backyard.
Courage, the courage to finally take one’s life in one’s own hands and go after the big dream has a way of making that dream come true. It seems to open hidden doorways from which good things begin to pour into one’s life. But only after we’ve made the journey in our own way. For Manry, at 47 years of age, it was sailing 3,000 miles of the North Atlantic. Each of us must make his or her own voyage to fulfillment in his or her own way, or sit in the backyard. A journey through darkness and danger to the light that beacons in the distance. A journey to fulfillment.
What Makes the Difference
The following was written by Bruce Barton back in the year 1917. The following year, he won a seat in the United States Congress and lived to head one of the world’s largest advertising agencies. The fact that this story was written in 1917 is not important. It’s as true today as it was then.
He wrote, “A little while ago I was in charge of a large organization of salesmen. My chief sent me to a western city to appoint a manager for that territory. There were two candidates. We had their records in detail, but we’d never met either of them. I was to look them over, form my judgment, and appoint the better man.
“I met one in Cincinnati, the other in St. Louis. The man in Cincinnati said to me, ‘What does this position pay?’ I told him. He said, ‘Well, that’s more than I’m getting here, and I should like the job. Every man wants to better them self when he can.’
“The St. Louis man did not wait for me to arrive in the city. He found out what train I was on, rode out on the line, and surprised me by walking me to my car, and he began to talk. He told me about himself, his training, and his selling experience. He had drawn up plans and details for the development of our territory. He told me how many men he expected to have working by the end of the year and just how he thought he could increase our volume of business. I had to hire him finally in order to get a chance to go to bed that night. And in his enthusiasm he forgot to ask me and I forgot to tell him what the salary would be. The first man had wanted a better job, which is commendable enough. But I hired the man who was enthusiastic about the opportunity.”
Napoleon’s adversaries used to speak of him as the “100,000 Man,” meaning that his spirit infused into an army was equal to an additional 100,000 troops. They criticized his tactics, they accused him of disregarding all the rules of successful warfare, yet he won and they lost because his enthusiasm carried his soldiers to impossible achievements.
And then Bruce Barton wrote, “Encourage your children to express their enthusiasm and delight. Let them believe the world is full of wonderful things and they themselves full of splendid possibilities. They can learn self-repression in later years, but enthusiasm, once lost, can be lost forever. ‘Men are nothing,’ said Montaigne, ‘until they’re excited,’ and Montaigne was right.” Well, that’s the story that Bruce Barton wrote in 1917. But you could haul it out 100 years from now and its lesson would be just as valuable.
We should never lose our zest for living, our excitement and enthusiasm, our curiosity and our desire to know. The person who does is certainly blind to the world. It’s miracles and possibilities, and his own possibilities. And when you put a damper on a child’s enthusiasm, you are hurting, perhaps permanently, his most valuable emotion.
The world is as exciting today as it was when we were children. The trouble lies in the fact that we tend to lose our children’s eyes. And because of it, our enthusiasm for life.