“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Ever since I read this quote a long time ago, it has become part of my philosophy on life. Not too literal, of course. But to me it is the perfect picture of what it needs to get things done, especially for those things that might be a bit visionary, or let’s say: utopian. It needs a crowd of people who share an aspiration or vision, that brings them together and creates enough instrinsic motivation and momentum to form a team and to make it happen.
Saint-Exupéry says: “Do not give orders!” – which makes it resonate so perfectly with my “all
men humans are equal” and “collaboration rulez” ideas. And “Teach them!” – yes, sharing knowledge! – I immediately think. And here comes the absolute climax: “… the vast and endless sea.” aka the most beautiful freedom – I imagine.
I agree, this is romantic and somehow very old-school nowadays. The sea has rather turned into the biggest and cheapest rubbish bin of the world, with always expanding national borders. Not only because of the many fossil and biomass resources that promise a prolonging of economic growth for some, but also to expand the boundaries of powers into this no man’s land – the international waters. For many refugees these days it is nothing else but an anonymous graveyard.
It seems seafaring, which had been totally sustainable for thousands of years, today doesn’t imply too much inspiration. In terms of passenger transportation the focus for cruise liners is rather on distraction from the medium: vast swimming consume temples and entertainment habitats with an enormous energy demand for a well-off target group. And for freight the ever growing container-vessels are optimized to transport more goods in less time, burning the cheapest crude oil – polluting the sea with noise and all their losses and the air with tons of emissions.
Finally we have managed to get airborne. So sea voyages do not really fit in our modern times anyways, just because they are so slow! Not to speak about unforeseeable weather conditions and freak waves and it’s intimidating endlessness of course – covering over 70 percent of the surface of the earth, still widely unexplored. Strange though, whenever I fly overseas, it feels like my matter is beamed to another location, and after I have landed it will take the rest of me some extra days to assimilate – depending on the distance I have travelled.
Everytime I am at or on the sea, my body and my soul start to resonate with it. With it’s smell, flow, sound and colors, the amazing variety of chroma and shapes of the water and all the life forms. And finally – yes! – it’s vast endlessness.
Let’s build a ship!
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