A View from the Dock of the Bay

 Hut on jetty


Talking about Active Imagination, this week I keep remembering one of my all-time favorite songs: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding.


I have been there all my life it seems. Literally when I was 19 I went to Alaska and ended up working at a crab and salmon cannery most of the summer in Yakutat, AK. And there was this dock overlooking Yakutat Bay, in 1973, that I would sit at for hours at a time, in awe of the triple levels of mountain ranges ahead on the horizon; contemplating life, my future, spirituality, poetry, and at the time Yeats’s book A Vision, with this song playing over and over in my mind, as it is today. A similar lyric from Don MacClean merges for me with Dock of the Bay:

   You know I’ve heard about people like me,

   But I never made the connection;

   They walk one road to set them free,

   And find they’ve gone the wrong direction.

   But there’s no need for turnin’ round,

   ‘Cause all roads lead to where I am;

   And I believe I’ve walked them all,

   No matter what I may have planned.


So what is it about Dock of the Bay that lingers; that has dogged my footsteps and supported my own Dreamer nature all my adult life? My favorite line personally is:

    I can’t do what ten people tell me to do;

    So I guess I’ll remain the same.

These lyrics are more than song words; they are banners, manifestos; philosophical cornerstones of a Generation, the late 60’s – 70’s; my formative generation. They comprise a FORGE for the Imagination to be Fired in; an Alchemical cauldron in which Identity itself has stewed, and brewed, through the decades.


Lyrics like these ring true with my independent-thinking, Explorer instincts.

They are an invitation to ACTIVATE the imagination; to LISTEN DEEPLY, within the cauldron of your own BEINGNESS, and then, to Follow in the direction of your Dreams, unafraid and alive; to activate your spirit of Adventure.


I invite you to a Creative Visualization technique:

Imagine you are sitting on the Dock of a Bay. Your feet are dangling over the water. Waves wash in and then recede.You smell the salt air, taste the moisture. Boats go here and there at sea. The horizon seems infinite; it carries you anywhere you wish to go in your thoughts, your wishes, your memories, your dream reveries. Just sit here on the dock of your bay, and IMAGINE! Stay as long as you can; go back over a series of days if you like. Bring a question or just enjoy your repose. You are “time out of time”; everywhere and nowhere and there is no place but Here you need to Be. Later, you can journal about your thoughts and feelings and you can ponder the VISIONS that come to you in this practice.

So, here are the lyrics.  Where do they take YOU to? (I invite your reminiscences and stories!)


– written by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper
– lyrics as recorded by Otis Redding December 7, 1967, three days before his death in a plane crash outside Madison, Wisconsin

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ come
Watching the ships roll in
And then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah

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

Look like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes

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


Here’s a You Tube Link to Otis Redding’s version

And a re-blog of a relevant quote from Albert Schweitzer

from Theresa’s Soul Gatherings blog yesterday:

It is not necessary
to go off on a tour of great cathedrals
in order to find the Deity.
Look within.
You have to sit still to do it.

~ Albert Schweitzer ~
German Theologian, Physician