Ships in the Harbor

“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are built for.” John A. Shedd

It is sad that so many people go through life putting in their time at work to make a living, but never truly make a life.  They speak about the “someday” when they are going to travel, learn that language, or learn to skydive.  They are prisoners to a 40-hour work week (or often many more hours than that), come home to “rest” in front of the television, and then wake up and do it all again.  They let making a living become the purpose of their existence, wasting all of their other passions, skills, and interests outside of working and never letting those things reach their potential.

I was lucky that my parents set a different example for me.  When I was four years old and my sister was one, my parents bought a used RV, rented out their house for the cost of the mortgage payment, quit their jobs and we spent the next eighteen months touring western Canada, Mexico, and the United States.  My parents were far from wealthy, but they had a dream and they were not willing to wait for someday.  In the years when children my age may have been in preschool or kindergarten, I was learning to ride a bike alongside the Rio Grande, I was learning to read with the Pacific Ocean passing by outside my window, and I was learning to make friends with all kinds of different people.  I have distinct memories that shaped me as a person, lessons learned about how we get tricked into thinking what a “normal” life should be.

My parents had, up to that point, worked normal jobs, lived in a small house and paid their bills like everyone else.  But for them, that was not the fulfillment of their dreams.  On the road for over a year, they saw so many things, met so many interesting people and proved to themselves that it could be done.  Everyone said they were crazy, but in the end, they would have been crazy not to do it.  Less than six months after returning home, my dad had a stroke.  I bet they were grateful that they didn’t wait for someday to come along.

I think about myself and my passions and dreams, the whims I want to chase after, the people and causes that I want to help, and I know I am not built to stay safely in the harbor.  We all need to make a living; I have a mortgage and bills to pay just like most people.  But we are not filled with hopes and dreams, diverse personalities, talents, and a longing for purpose so that we can sit, untested and untried, in the harbors of our lives.  And yet most people do just that.

“This is your life, are you who you want to be?” This is Your Life, Switchfoot.


  1. I know I've said this to you before, but I will say it again - I have learned so much by having known you. One of the things I've learned in life is an incredibly valuable lesson and I actually learned it by watching your parents and how they raised you and your siblings. I saw how they instilled this sense of following your dreams and believing in yourself and doing the thing you dreamed no matter what anyone else said or thought. It was a revelation to 15 year old me way back in the day and it is a life lesson I have treasured ever since!


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