At it’s core, and despite all of the parts about sailing, storms, and sublimity, Going Aloft is really a love story. It’s about a young man who falls in love with his surroundings and his mentor and his friends, but the most important blossoming of love is the bond between the Writer and the Artist. The character of the Artist is a young woman who follows her naive and idealistic boyfriend away from all the safety and comforts of her coastal home, volunteering for a dangerous voyage to the islands to the south without any promise of a successful return.
She does this perhaps because she is afraid to lose him, afraid he will come back changed and not interested in her anymore. She does this perhaps to challenge herself, to force herself outside of her comfort zone in order to grow, to prove to herself that she can do something difficult. She doesn’t need the approval of anyone but herself. She does this, simply and finally, because she loves the Writer. Her act is one of devotion to a person who often doesn’t return her affections, whose dreams are grand and focused outward into the world, who sometimes forgets how good he has it in her love for him. Her action is a selfless and beautiful one, and in it the goddess that is in every woman is revealed in her.
This chapter is when the Writer, head always in the clouds, breathing the rarefied air of the tallest mast, finally comes down to sea level and sees what is actually around him. He sees a girl far from home, who depends on him to get back safely, and he realizes his true feelings for the person who has such powerful feelings towards him. He sees the toddling partnership, the interdependence, the weaving together of one life from two, growing between them. He might not know yet how difficult it will be, loving and caring for her- he can’t see into the future, try as he might- but he knows that he loves her and is willing to try whatever it takes to make it work.
This chapter is dedicated to the marvelous woman who is illustrating these humble chapters, and whose presence inspires the creative labors of an often-distracted and distant-minded man.
Read it here.