For much of my life I believe I was quietly waiting for my ship to come in. I say quietly because I didn’t talk much about it. It wasn’t secret exactly but the feeling percolated beneath the surface as I went about my life. That “ship” was vaguely defined; it could have been a great man or a great job or writing success, for a few examples.
The ship never came. It isn’t coming. What I see now is that the ship is already here. It always was here. Your life is your ship. What you build is the ship. If you sit around waiting, what you’ll have is a big pile of materials that never got used, that were never crafted into a sea-worthy vessel.
I’ve used a ship metaphor on the blog before when, a couple years ago, I said my life needed some tweaking & compared it to a ship in need of a change in direction. Ships don’t turn on a dime. They creak and groan, reluctant to leave the path they’re on, as they churn forward on momentum. The older you get, the slower changes come. I’m not talking here about quick or abrupt changes later in life that come, say, when someone has a heart attack or stroke and is then impelled to modify all sorts of things about their life. Or the person who abruptly leaves a long-time relationship or family for a fresh new one. Those seem different. Lifestyle changes generally are more gradual with age.
My mother was always “waiting.” She did not model for me the idea that a person is – must be – self-motivating. My father harangued and railed but didn’t teach skills or demonstrate how to build a life. Not surprisingly, none of my many siblings were especially adept at this self-directing business either, at crafting a grand ship for themselves to sail through life on. None of us, I believe, understood that you were your own ship and that it could be no better than what you designed. Further, I don’t think any of us truly grasped the role of setbacks and failures, that they should be expected and handled. Our blueprints were no good.
I do now see my life as a ship I built and continue to “tweak.” I put on a captain’s hat and found my way to the bridge. It may not be grand but it’s most certainly mine. I stopped waiting.