“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
John A. Shedd
I heard this story from Chellie Campbell. Back in the day, at the ports in London, the Merchants would hire and work with key staff of the ship to plan the ships voyage. Best routes to travel, what trinkets lay waiting for them to retrieve, the goals of this particular trip. The Merchants would watch as their beautiful vessels would fill with the provisions for the long journey and the Crew (all men at the time) would be preparing for their last days on land before setting sail.
Once the ship sailed, there was nothing to do but wait and wait and wait. No cell phones nor easy communication.
On great occasions, a messenger boy would run from the port back to the Merchants office yelling, “your ship has come in, your ship has come in!” Thus the expression your ship has come in, was born.
If you think about it, these roles: Merchant, Crew, Passenger, Stow-away or Pirate are roles we can often spot in both our professional and personal lives. As a Merchant you are taking the risk in order to reap the reward. At home, you may take on more responsibility and become accustomed to providing direction. The Crew (often including the Managers) may be in dual roles, and the rest of the team or household have many tasks and supportive roles to fulfill. And no Ship-Building Merchant is going to last long without passengers, and vice-a-versa. Stow-aways today are reflected in transition times, when your world has fallen to dust, and you no longer feel able to take care of yourself. Feeling victimized by situations, and grasping for the next step. The Pirate pushes boundaries and finds a tribe that will support this.
Are you in a Merchant role but really better suited to be a Crew member or vice-a-versa? Finding yourself as a Stow-away or a Pirate? All Merchants and no Crew? Who is in your tribe? Best to recognize and see what need this role is fulfilling, and gain some understanding as to what you and the team, company, family, or group gain from the role you find yourself in.
I appreciate learning the stories that make up the expressions we become use to hearing, and how simply playing with the expressions and metaphors opens up creative opportunities.
Giving oneself permission to be quiet, to see if this is indeed the time to set sail or if nestling in safety is in order, or doing something different, if you are always cutting the ties and running loose or stuck in the harbor what do things need to look like in order to set sail. Do we really need new experiences, or is true contentment finding ones’ location in the harbor?