Whenever I hear Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac playing Man of the World, it takes me back to an August evening long ago.
I was spending a few weeks in a quiet backwater Royal Navy establishment in Cornwall. Many personnel were away on summer leave, so the place was running on a skeleton staff and its social life was even quieter than normal.
One of the bars stayed open for us. It had a free juke box and a terrace overlooking a beautiful lake, and an entertaining mix of young men and women took to meeting there every evening. About, I don’t know, fifteen of us. Maybe twenty some nights. We weren’t partying hard, but there were impromptu bar games going on and probably two or three raucous late nights.
I loved the lake. When the tide was low it exposed a wide expanse of deep mud, but the terrace was high enough above it for the smell not to reach us. At high tide it stretched for two miles left to right and a mile across to the far bank, and its still water reflected the dark green rounded hills that circled it. It was a stunningly beautiful place.
One evening I sat out on the terrace on my own. Not lonely or sad or anything. Just, you know, thoughtful without really thinking about anything. Having a quiet time.
Not completely quiet. With all the windows and doors thrown wide open to catch whatever breezes that might move the hot August evening air through the bar, I could hear the juke box clearly. And for those few weeks, our little social group of assorted characters had chosen Man of the World as our favourite record on the machine.
I think it was the B side of I Need Your Love So Bad. Not sure about that. They were already old songs back then, and it’s a long time ago now.
The lyrics didn’t reflect my state of mind or anything going on in my life. It was just a great blues song, and I loved it.
So it came on for maybe the twentieth time that evening, and I gazed out across the darkening lake, and one of my new friends brought me out a pint of chilled lager or something.
She stood enjoying the evening with me for a few minutes, and then said, “She’s out there somewhere.”
I looked up. “Hm?”
“You’re waiting to meet her. You will. She’s out there.”
I gave a polite smile and she winked then returned indoors.
Didn’t know what that was about. I wasn’t looking for anyone. I wasn’t lonely. My career was busy, and as well as the assortment of oddballs I’d met in our little summer oasis I had a good social life that included several lovely women.
But d’you know what? She was right.
When the leave period finished and the establishment filled with its normal personnel again, one of the people who came back was my wife-to-be. We met, became friends, and fell in love. A year later we got engaged, and two years after that we got married. And we’re still together.
Sometimes we don’t even know we’re looking for a person or thing or event that’s going to change our life.
The thing to remember is, be open. Because you just never know.