My heroes have always been men of the sea.
As a boy I endured the merciless taunting of my brothers because I had a picture of ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau hanging in my bedroom. As a teenager I read everything, even the bad stuff, written by Ernest Hemingway.
Now, middle-aged, I find myself again admiring another icon of the ocean: Sponge Bob Square Pants.
Laugh if you wish, but I can't help but admire the little guy's unbridled optimism.
"Today is going to be the best day ever!" Sponge Bob proclaims every day when he gets out of bed.
With the start of another year I will go out on a limb and agree with Mr. Squarepants in proclaiming, "2005 will be the Best Year Ever!"
Some say there are two types of people in the world: Type P (for pessimist) because they consider the glass half empty, and Type O (for optimist) because they consider the glass half full. But I say there is a third personality type. We'll call it Type W, which stands for "Who cares. At least I've got a glass!"
With a glass you can dig for clams, catch fire flies or make a sand castle on the beach. Whether it empty or full doesn't matter. Just stop whining and be happy you live in a tropical paradise instead of the frozen tundra. And instead of worrying about things you won't do in the New Year, start planning the things you will.
For example, in 2005, I vow to do the following:
+ Take a week and run my 20-foot center console from Pensacola to Key West, stopping to camp and fish along the way. What better way to see the coast than in a small boat?
+ Watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean, paddle across the state, and 36 hours later watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Tell those gators on Lake Okeechobee to get out of my way, 'cause here I come.
+ Catch at least one snook, redfish, tarpon, trout, sheepshead, permit, pompano, amberjack, snapper, dolphin, wahoo and sailfish before Dec. 31.
+ Try to set a world record on 2-pound test. I don't care if I fail, it will be the effort that counts.
+ Camp on an island and cook filet mignon over an open fire.
+ Be the first person to dive on the 888-foot aircraft carrier Oriskany after it is sank as an artificial reef off Pensacola.
+ Paddle the length of the Apalachicola River, from Georgia's Lake Seminole to the Gulf of Mexico, and eat an fried oyster poor boy sandwich when I am done.
+ Learn to roll a sea kayak then paddle down the Rainbow River on a hot summer afternoon, rock'n and rollin' until my head spins.
+ Buy a windsurfer and learn to sail ... I just cleaned out the garage so it is time to clutter it up with some more water toys.
+ Make sashimi on a boat.
+ Fly a kite ... not the Toys "R" Us variety, but the big, 3-meter variety that will power a kite surfer. The experts say you need to learn to fly before you can catch big air.
+ Surf more hurricanes. Last year I spent too many storms sitting behind a computer screen. This year I'm calling in sick, which isn't far from the truth, because that is what you've got to be to surf a category 3 storm.
+ Make the mother of all sand castles then let my kids pretend they are on the set of a Japanese monster movie.
+ Smoke more fish (and cigars).
+ Get wet _ swim, dive, paddle or surf _ in the gulf or bay at least once a week, regardless of season.
So there you have it, my New Year's resolutions. Some of you make think I am shallow, vowing to do nothing but have more fun. Perhaps I should do a little more to save the world ... nahhhh, I'll leave that to Sponge Bob.