A pirate flag flying on a ships mast

A True Treasure Story From the Royal Conquest

So to most people, especially on social, it looks like I have a pretty amazing life! Well let’s face it, isn’t that what social media is for? To show everyone how awesome your life is?

Well, true to the way that I have always been, I have always tried to share the good and the not so good of my life. The reason is because someone may come across a post that is not a “look at my amazing life” post, but rather more like “life is hard for me right now”…. because…. and just maybe, they will realize that they are not alone.

Admittedly so, I would say that my life IS pretty unbelievable for the most part. I mean let’s face it. I am very lucky to work for and with some pretty amazing people! Not only that, but I get to go to work and be a pirate on a pirate ship and instigate huge water gun battles between kids and adults, tell pirate stories and chat with strangers (something we all know I love to do).

On other days, I am able to witness wide eyed grins of guests that are getting their very first glimpse of an Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin, most often at a matter of only a few feet or inches, for the very first time! Then there is the absolute look of shock and awe, which encroaches upon the faces of the guests on The Shark Boat when one of our 430 resident dolphins (or several at once) leap out of the water just inches behind the boat seemingly planning on landing itself right on board with them! I assure you it is a sight to see on all counts!

Not to mention where I live. In a 10th floor, huge, condo that overlooks the ocean ( Boca Ciega Bay); not the beach, the ocean is all you see. My roommate Larry is by far the best! A great guy that I sincerely like and he makes it so easy being his roommate! I seriously lucked out with him! To top it all off, I am in the process of putting in a beautiful new studio, which will allow me to get back to creating and producing…

So by all counts, yes, my life is amazing! However, if I am being honest, I must admit that the past few months of living in this ‘paradise’ have been a little unsettling for me. While I love my job and where I live, I have found myself struggling to feel connected to this new life I am existing in. I have continuously found myself asking the age-old question “What’s it all about?” I mean here I am…what now? I mean, I get up, go to work, rinse, and repeat. I guess, my real question was in my purpose, and one thing I do know is that no amount of money is ever going to be the answer to that question. There had to be more. That question was answered the other night just after the last pirate ship cruise of the day. In no small way I might add. Here’s how:

Up on The Royal Conquest that evening, you would find: Captain Rattle Bones, Jellyfish Jim, and myself, Bad Brian, serving as crew to a full boat of excited and engaged kids and adults. Of those adults, was an elderly lady named Patti who, I would say, is in her early 70’s.

Patti seemed to be having more fun than anyone on board. She was constantly laughing and saying how much fun she was having. So, as I was bidding everyone farewell at the end of the dock that night, I was not surprised to see her come walking toward me with a huge grin plastered across her face. Still smiling from ear to ear, eyes sparkling with joy, she gently grasped my arm.

Now under normal conditions, this would be very much quite the norm for disembarking passengers of The Royal Conquest. Often the smiles and kind words from our guests are answered with a sincere “You’re welcome” and “thank you,” delivered with a genuine smile to the nearly 50 (now honorary) pirates, who file past us after having been entertained for the previous hour and a half by two pirates and the ship’s Captain. So, with those numbers and our schedule to keep, deeper conversations are not extremely commonplace. But, last night, the treasure of the Royal Conquest would be found not during our cruise, nor would my reward for the cruise be found in our tip jar. Instead, this “treasure” if you will, would be hidden in the words of Honorary Pirate Patti.

While holding my arm, she began to speak through her beautiful smile. “That was amazing! We had so much fun!” She began telling me how they had been on the cruise four years ago and what a ball they had. She then told me that her goal was to come back again next year for her and her husband’s 50th wedding anniversary. Then added “if I’m still alive.” My response, no doubt, was “Of course you’ll be alive! I look forward to seeing you both next year!” Seemed safe enough. Then, still with the same smile and sparkling eyes, she looked at me and said, “Well, I’m a cancer patient and it doesn’t look too good as far as that goes.”

Now, for those of you that know me, you know that I am rarely ever at a loss for words. Good words and proper words are a whole different story, but for me to be left simply at a loss of what to say is really odd. But there I was, still looking her in the eye. I managed a sincere “I’m so sorry.” I then asked her about the cancer and while I won’t go into that here, suffice it to say, it is bad.

Keep in mind that all this was said to me with the same sparkling eyes and ear to ear smile, which she wore while describing how much fun they had just had. So I said to her, “You seem to have such a good attitude regarding this.”

Unflinching in her joyful expression, she said to me, “No, I really do not. I am angry. I have a terrible attitude about it all.”

“You certainly could have fooled me” I replied. Then came the treasure.

Still glowing with joy, she continues, “What you see NOW, is because of YOU all! That was amazing! I have not laughed or smiled this much in literally months! You guys bring so much joy to everyone on that boat. You all are so good at what you do. This smile…. is from YOU guys! Please don’t stop doing what you do.”

Once again, I found myself at a loss of what to say, which was perfectly fine as anything that I could have said would pale in comparison to what she had just voiced. Her words still haunted my rising the next morning. As did the ever burned image of her sparkling eyes and genuine smile that could have lit a room.

As the morning progressed, other images began to flash across my mind’s eye. The child who is speechless because a “real pirate” just walked past on the way to the boat and stopped to ask if he/she was sailing with them today, the “too cool for school” teen that slips up on the pirate ship and “accidently” gets caught up in having a good time in a water gun battle with a pirate, or the “I’m just here for the kids Dad” that completely flips out when he sees a dolphin up close for the first time. Then, of course, there are those we may NEVER know about, the lives we touch that pass us afterwards and offer the same compliments and comments which we love to hear and truly work hard for, but the depth of their story is never made known to us. Certainly not because we don’t care, but perhaps, we don’t need to know. After all, we are pirates, mates, captains, and entertainers. We aren’t doctors or counselors. We merely work with the beauty that God has created and the talents he has given each of us.

But it did make me realize a couple of things:

1. My life IS absolutely amazing!

2. The reason it is amazing is not because of what I have, but because of what I am allowed to do and see on a daily basis. I am funding my studio with the tips from the tip jars at work. I am fueling my soul with all the rest!

Thank you Honorary Pirate Patti. I look forward to seeing you and your husband aboard the Royal Conquest next year for your 50th wedding anniversary!

Pirate Bad Brian

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