Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay…
Sitting on the Dock of the Bay…Summer, 1967, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
“Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun – I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
Watching the ships roll in – And then I watch ’em roll away again
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay – Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay – Wastin’ time
I left my home in Georgia – Headed for the ‘Frisco bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothing to live for – And look like nothin’s gonna come my way
So I’m just gonna sit on the dock of the bay – Watching the tide roll away
Ooo, I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay – Wastin’ time…”
– Otis Redding and Steve Cropper, 1967
Three days after recording this number one hit, Otis Redding died in a plane crash near Madison, Wisconsin. He was twenty-six years old.
All should be perfect. The waves slosh against the creaky dock. A rainbow slips in behind the morning mist. The Bush beer bought at the Base Exchange is cheap and cold. The girl from North Wilkesboro is innocent, sexy, engaging. Otis sings.
The sun warms my body but a quiet ache blurs the rainbow and snuffs the joy out of this and so many other possibility moments. All I hear is Otis.
“Sittin’ here resting my bones – And this loneliness won’t leave me alone
It’s two thousand miles I roamed – Just to make this dock my home
Now, I’m just gonna sit at the dock of the bay – Watching the tide roll away
Oooo-wee, sittin’ on the dock of the bay – Wastin’ time…”
I’m nineteen years old during what would later be called “The Summer of Love.” Well, I can’t seem to focus on love, and, unlike Otis, I’m not resting my bones. I’m blindly and frenetically scurrying down a cluttered and confusing path. Of course, like so many others at nineteen, or twenty-nine, thirty-nine or seventy-nine, my journey is more about retreat than quest.
Past and future merge on that Myrtle Beach day. I don’t know what I’m running to and, other than loneliness, I only have a vague sense of what I’m running from. The one thing I believe for sure is that, like Otis, I’m wasting precious time.
It would be many years before I even sniffed the truth. The truth that real treasures, unlike transient and superficial end-points, objects and the perceived whims of others — are beyond tangible. They are ethereal. And, they are quicksilver. The treasure, this boon, is not a stagnate “something,” waiting for us at the end of the journey. The prize is imbedded in every footfall of the journey. Time spent sittin’ in the morning sun watching the ships roll in, the taste of cold beer, the sound of Otis singing my song, the kiss and warm blush of a pretty girl on a hot summer day. All is perfect.
Make sure not to push away gold as you reach for tin.
(Once Again) Hey, Dorothy…it’s not over the rainbow. It is the rainbow!