What a man does and what he loves -- really loves -- to do are often two, or more, different things.
Take Morgan Freeman, for instance.
He stopped in Washington recently to talk about the latest Hallmark Hall of Fame production, "Resting Place," a two-hour movie airing tonight at 9 on CBS, set in the South in 1972 as the Vietnam war winds down. Freeman, very business-like in a blue suit, talked seriously about the film, in which he plays the father, and C.C.H. Pounder the mother, of an officer killed in Vietnam. His southern hometown denies the officer burial with honor in an all-white cemetery. John Lithgow stars as an Army major who champions the couple's cause, making some surprising discoveries along the way.
Freeman discussed all of this earnestly. But he wasn't totally engaged until someone mentioned sailing. Then he smiled. Then he grew expansive. Then he spoke of voyages that might cover the better part of the hemisphere. Then he was talking about what he loves in life, not merely what he does.
Freeman sails a 30-foot sloop, but he has his eye on a 9-ton, 34-foot cutter, plus early retirement and time at sea with his wife.
The romance with the sea started in California. Freeman recalled going to the beach and feeling the love and the lure grow. "It was like this," he said, clutching another man's lapel and giving it a gentle but unyielding tug.
Later, visiting friends in Vermont, there was a chance for Freeman and two novice friends to go off in a small sailboat. Who's going to be the captain? asked the fellow organizing the outing. Freeman raised his hand. "Me! Me!" It was his first voyage. Not a voyage, really, but a day spent disentangling from trees and pushing off sandbars.
That was 1967. Three years later he bought his first boat, a 28-foot cruiser. He's never taken a sailing lesson, and he taught himself celestial navigation. Maine, Bermuda and Nova Scotia have been among his destinations. Now, at 49, he dreams of retirement -- while he's still young and strong enough to challenge the sea on its own terms -- and extended trips to the Mediterranean, South America and points in between.
It has often been that way for Freeman, this thing of doing one thing while loving and dreaming of another. Growing up, he dreamed of flying. "I'd be sitting in a classroom," he recalled, "but I was doing this," he said, leaning back in a chair, his hand clutching an imaginary control stick. "I was at 45,000 feet."
So it was that he sat in Washington talking about "Resting Place" while dreaming of a new boat. Soon he'll be in Montreal making a movie in which he stars as a pimp (one of the few roles he's had that plays to his street-wise looks). He'll be playing the pimp, but chances are he'll be dreaming of that mistress, the sea, and conjuring up Rio and other ports of call.