A quote that I saved a while back inspired me this morning – “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.” – John A. Shedd
We are all “safe” if we let our fears prevent us from ever venturing out of the harbors that we create for ourselves. It is as if we become mimes, trapped in an imaginary glass box of our own making. It may be a place where we feel safe and comfortable, or a job into which we have settled. Perhaps your harbor involves relationships that feel safe for you. For some it is a location that they seldom venture far from. For most it involves the routines that we fall into and the habits that form over time. It is just easier and safer feeling to continue to do the same old things in the same old places with the same old people around us.
The routines of our lives become harbors that we don’t leave. But that feeling of safety comes at a price – our lives become constricted, and we don’t grow. We let our fear of things new or different set boundaries that we do not cross and prevent us from forming new relationships with people whom we fear to meet. Life can get pretty boring in the little harbors that we create for ourselves.
Another quote that I collected, this one the lyrics from the song “Let it Go” from the movie Frozen, provides inspiration to leave those safe harbors –
“And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through.”
The essence of Shedd’s quote is that ships were meant to sail the seas and not rest peacefully in harbors. Ships are built to withstand the seas – the tossing waves and blowing winds – just as we are “built” to withstand the tests that life through at us. It is up to us to overcome our fears, to test our limits and break through, by breaking out of our safe harbors.
Think a moment of your life and the routines that you have developed. Have you lived in the same place for 10-20 years or more? Do you always go to the same restaurants or stores? When was the last time that you met someone new or made a new friend? Have you even looked lately to see if another job might be a better fit for you? If you are single, when was the last time that you had a date or even tried to?
As you think about things like that and other things in your life that have become routines (safe harbors) ask yourself why. What is holding you back? What do you fear? Is there really any basis for those fears?
You may reply, “But, I feel comfortable with my routines, why should I change anything?” The simple answer is that this was not what you were made for that is not the purpose of life. I like this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt – “The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
One cannot reach out for new experiences from within their safe harbor. You must leave the safety and comfort of the harbor of your routines and try new things, meet new people, have new experiences. Not to do so is not really to live your life. Perhaps you can pray for the courage to leave your harbor. Maybe knowing that you have God at your side will give you the courage to leave your harbor.
Let the words of Dawna Markova inspire you – “I will not die an unlived life…I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise” Maybe Markova could have said “to loosen my heart until it becomes a ship that sails out of the harbor.”
Leave your harbor behind today and reach out for new experiences do new things, go new places, meet new people.