Nantucket - Part 1

I am drawn to water.

A realization I have come to later in life than I wished.

Living beside Lake Michigan for quarter of a century, I was lulled into a false sense of security that proximity to the sea was not important. An assumption that the last few days have proven false.

We spent the weekend on Shelter Island. Hurricaine Danny called to say it was coming over and we should cancel our plans. We ignored it, so it didn’t show. Typical male.

His rudeness was our gift. A fantastic evening at the extraordinary home of Mindy Goldberg and Cary Tamarkin overlooking Shelter Island Sound - a testament to their taste, talent and sustained business success.

At several times during the evening I stood alone and wondered if the moonlit path across the water could be reached from the beach below. The inner child in me hoped so. The man in the white Armani suit worried about the salt stains.

Still, it was an encouraging start. Possibility is the fuel to the future. And I spend most of my time seeing the possibilities for others. Restoring fantasy in our own lives is why summer vacations were invented. And Saturday night was the beginning of that.

On Sunday, I passed another birthday. Quietly and without fanfare. Leaving Shelter Island on the ferry we weren’t sure where we were headed next. For two producers this was unprecedentedly spontaneous behavior. The forecast for everywhere, from Hong Kong to home was set fair for the week. We had a convertible, a full tank of gas, and a million miles on American. The world lay before us. A vast array of possibilities.

We chose Nantucket. Chris’s spiritual home. And a place I’ve never liked.

I spent eleven reluctant vacations with Chris’s family, wishing each time I was somewhere else. Of all the places in the world, Nantucket was top of my list of seen it once, don’t need to see it again.

We hadn’t been back for five years. And I hadn’t missed it one iota. Until two weeks ago when I read in someone’s blog a description of a few days spent at the Wauwinet Inn in early August. Stacy Wall, the endlessly talented and humble film director, was at Mindy and Cary’s party on Saturday. We talked about blogging. He said he preferred the term, writing on the internet.

Aesthetically I agree with Stacy. Writing is a craft. Blogging is casual. But in practice, I find blogging less intimidating. And liberated from the expectation that Writing imposes on me, I find myself becoming more open to the world around me. An openness that found me reading, to my surprise, about Nantucket.

Something stirred inside me that I hadn’t expected. Sights and sounds of Nantucket. Blue hydrangeas swaying on ocean breezes. Cobble-stone streets lined with grey shingled houses, their white windows and fences open and protective in equal measure. And country roads across low lying landscapes, lush and sandy in impossible combinations.

But mostly I felt the pull of island life. Islands that sit exposed to the elements. That require commitment and effort to reach. Their very independence from land demanding a sense of the possible from those that live there.

I have been struck by this in our work recently. Business owners unable to embrace the possibility of what they could be.

Over the last few weeks I have found myself talking to companies whose talent and potential far exceeds their current self-imposed limitations. They have well rehearsed reasons why my ambition for them is too far-reaching. Why my belief in what they could be is unrealistic.

The sense of the possible has left them for now. For some it has gone forever. Decisions seen as temporary have a way of becoming permanent while we are waiting for permission to be great.

Leaving the Orient Point ferry at New London, Connecticut - a convergence of transportation possibilities like few others in the world: boats, ferries, submarines, trains, cars, buses and motorcycles all within a few yards of each other - we turned east and headed towards Hyannis. The Wauwinet had cancellations and a bay view room, at a price unthinkable a year ago, was ours for three nights.

Three hours later, our car stowed safely below, we stood at the bow of the massive Nantucket ferry and headed south into the Atlantic. The evening was warm and fog shrouded, and as we passed the harbor’s outer marker a small group of people gathered on the starboard side and watched quietly as Senator Kennedy’s compound came slowly into view, before settling back into its quiet mourning behind the mist. His schooner bobbed a few hundred yards away, responding to our wake as that of a dog hoping anxiously for the return of its master.

Ahead, the moon found a small gap in the heavy skies, and the path that I had gazed at the night before appeared again on the water, guiding us forward.

The man in the white suit was nowhere to be found.

This time there was only a boy. On a path filled with possibilities.