A Ship Is Safe in a Harbor; but that’s not what a Ship is for.” – John A. Shedd

By Tom Peyton

I am not sure how it happened but somehow, I signed up to receive daily inspirational quotes from a company on the internet. The quotes are often thought – provoking and some are quite funny. Its better than getting phone calls and emails that my automobile warranty is expiring.

Last week I received one that I use as the title of my article about a ship. It’s attributed to President Teddy Roosevelt who allegedly said it in 1901. He was referring to the fact that the responsibility of the United States Navy is to keep ships moving. Yes, they are safe in a harbor but their purpose is to move so they don’t become rusty and are ready at a moment’s notice to defend our nation in battle.

John A. Shedd a highly successful Chicago businessman and philanthropist in 1921 decided to use the same quote and put a different spin on it. Professor Shedd who went from a stock clerk at Marshall Fields, the giant retail store in Chicago to its President saw the quote as an opportunity to discuss human potential and a pathway to success.

Shedd said that a ship – metaphorically meaning us – feels safe in the harbor. It provides the comfort, solace and safe haven that we sometimes need to deal with the vagaries of life. However, staying in the harbor is not what the ship was built for; and it’s not what our purpose in life is.

A couple of weeks ago our esteemed founder Herb Knoll spoke about a term coined by the futurist writer Faith Popcorn called “cocooning”. It’s defined as a place of comfort away from the harsh realities of life. It’s the ship in the harbor surrounded by a protective coat – so to speak keeping danger out.

When I thought about that concept I thought back to my early days and weeks of grief. I did not want to leave my home. When I did as a small business owner, I could create my schedule that kept me going 80 or more hours a week. I came back to my house sad and overwhelmed at times. The pain, sorrow and tears felt as though I was destined to live that way for a long time until I decided to take some steps to make positive changes in my life.

I am reminded as well of Larry Ahrens insightful article last week about “negative coping”. The ideas are similar in that we can chose to stay in a place and accept the pain, sadness and sorrow as a punishment. It’s the “Brain Fog”, the lack of motivation and or the procrastination.

With the help of a grief counselor and other professionals we can take steps however small and witness positive changes in our life. With their guidance, along with support from the brothers of this group we can move forward and come to a realization it’s possible to live with grief not as a punishment and certainly not as a life sentence. Grief is a part of my life; it’s a part of my children’s life and so many others but it is not meant to debilitate my life. I welcome it and know it’s a part of me; not the WHOLE of me. I have a long way to go but I am taking steps as often as possible.

I rescued a dog from a shelter a few months ago. He has helped me deal with loss and abandonment as I move forward in life. I reach out to friends and family and spend time with them. I talk weekly with my grief counselor who offers invaluable suggestions and ideas on how I can move forward. I am learning how to enjoy the gratitude I feel for my late and forever loved wife who chose me to be her husband and to be the father who supports his grieving children.

I have the support of two bereavement groups; one through my church and the other with seven men from different parts of the country all of whom have helped me to grow and walk with me as brothers. I also feel the support of all of you my brothers who at any time will respond to the needs of another brother. Sometimes it’s a simple word or a few sentences offering hope, insights and support.

The ship my brothers is a metaphor for each of us. We are not meant to rust and get struck in the harbor. We strive to be determined as our wives I am sure told us to move forward, to live life and to be an example to our children and grandchildren as we carry on their legacy.

Yes, there are days when tears and sadness overwhelm me. I struggle at times leaving the safe ship called “my home”. I don’t at times want to be deal with anybody or anything. I realize however my wife would want me to be the man she chose to live her life with and be the father to our children.

Sail forward brothers, I am here to help as is every man in this; the best resource for Widowers on the planet.

You can write Tom Peyton on MESSENGER

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