The Essence Of Living

“A ship in harbor is safe–but that is not what ships are for.” ~ John A. Shedd, Salt from My Attic

I really love how John captures and describes the essence of living life to the fullest. I have passed by boats tied up in harbors before, and being anchored on such calm and gentle waters, they definitely do appear quite safe–but that is not why they were created. Likewise, I, too, desire to be safe in my life–I would prefer knowing exactly what to expect and to be well protected against the many storms of life–but that is not the purpose for which I was created.

Our bodies are a lot like ships out on the water. Therefore, out of uncertainty and fear of the unknown, we do not want to take great risks with them and sail them on the stormy seas. After all, we cannot foresee what we may encounter, and if our ship were to sink, that would be a great loss. However, ships are built to handle whatever they may encounter on the waters, and therefore, few storms will actually sink a ship. And in the same way, our bodies where created to handle the waters of life, and we should not let the risks, uncertainty, or fear of the unknown stop us from sailing our mortal vessels.

If I restrict my life to the confines of a harbor–if I do the same things each day and avoid opportunities and risks–I may feel safer, but I will not accomplish much in my life. Just as ships are made for the journey from port to port, our lives are made for the journey that will take us through challenges and obstacles, and not for hiding away in our homes avoiding anything that might feel threatening or involve risk.

Of course, we must be cautious in life; surely, we should not seek out troubles. Yet despite the unknown, we must strive to realize our goals and ambitions–as the captain of our vessel, we must look always towards our destination with hope and optimism, not worrying about possible storms in the future and over the horizon, for there is just as good a possibility that there may be clear skies and a strong breeze ahead.

Safety is nice–it has a time and a place in our lives. In addition, our time spent in harbor should be relevant and timely–filled with meaning and purpose. We can use it to strengthen our resolve and determination, or to draw up new courses and destinations. And when we have finished preparing, we should not hold back–we must set sail once more. As captain of your ship, do your best to reach your destinations, and realize that your dreams rarely lie in the safety of the current harbor.

Allow yourself an adventure today.

Questions to consider:

Why is safety so attractive to us? What draws us to it?

What kinds of adventures may lie out on the open sea for you? Would life be different if you were to take risks?

What is the difference between a risk worth taking and a foolish risk?

For further thought:

“Security is mostly superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” ~ Helen Keller


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Filed under Commentary, Food For Thought, Living, Opinion

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