Don’t Go Down (with the Ship)
Today I participated in what some might consider a rite of passage for one of my daughters. I sat nearby while she and a friend watched the movie, Titanic. My feelings about this movie are probably best summed up by my son’s response a third of the way through the movie: “There’s an hour left?!”
To be honest, I could do without the full hour of watching body after body fall off and hit the propellers before landing in freezing ocean waters. I might need an entire day…or week… to recover from witnessing the scene where the bodies are bobbing up and down with frost in their hair and eyes frozen open. How many times do I have to see water breaking down walls and busting up floor boards to get it? Yes, I know that this part of the movie is the same length as it took the original Titanic to sink. Nice artistic touch. Nice. I wasn’t sure if I was nauseous and dissociating because of the movie or because I had not eaten lunch.
But, I digress.
At the end of the movie we see a heartbreaking scene where both the captain and the engineer of the ship…the ship that was never supposed to…could never…sink…the “ship of dreams”… each standing alone while the reality of what is happening settles in. You can see it on their faces. They are not moving. This point is the end for them. They will go down with the ship.
If you are anything like me and absorb the emotions of movie scenes like a dry sponge, then you can feel the resignation and resolve. Your body actually hurts. It is a painful reality. Or not. Because it is a movie. But, still. It happened at some point.
I can remember the first time I heard this saying: “The captain goes down with the ship.” Someone alluded to it and I was confused. I remember asking my mom or dad: “What do they mean?” My mom or dad responded: “The captain always goes down with the ship. It is kind of a rule of life. He is the leader. The ship is his responsibility. So he stays with it. Until the end. He doesn’t abandon his post.”
I don’t know how old I was, but I was very young. I remember this moment and how haunting the idea was to me. The weight of that role. The responsibility. The threat. I remember thinking: “Really? Why? Does it have to be that way? It seems so unfair.” I remember little Emily thinking about it for a long while. It bothered me. I imagined scenes of various ship captains realizing that they were going to die as their ship started to sink. I would try to come with ideas for how they could still escape.
Going down with the ship. Heavy stuff for a child. For an adult, too.
Listen, friend. Listen very, very closely.
No. It does NOT have to be that way.
Have you ever heard of the saying “You are the captain of your ship?” or some variation? Yes? That part is right. Sure, sure. God…your Higher Power…leads, guides. Life happens. None of us start on equal footing in life. Right, right. All true. And? Ultimately, you are the one steering this ship. You are the oh captain, my captain. You.
And, you do NOT have to go down. I don’t care what social ideals, what religious bondage, what self-imposed rules you have committed yourself to…what HILL you thought you would be willing to die on…I don’t care about any of it. Don’t you dare. Don’t go down with the ship. Do you hear me?
It isn’t worth it. But YOU are.
You are worth more than any social ideals, any religious bondage, any self-imposed rules you have committed yourself to…any hill you thought worth dying on. Do you hear me? Don’t. Do NOT go down with the ship. Get off. And live.
It makes for a good movie scene (and even that is questionable)…but it does NOT make for a good LIFE.
What is it? A religious group? A job? A relationship? An unattainable standard? A life goal you made 20 years ago? The life a mom or dad wanted you to have?
Whatever it is…if it is bringing harm to your mental, emotional, spiritual, or physical health? If it is causing you to sink? I don’t care if someone told you it was the “ship of dreams”. I don’t care if someone told you it could never sink. I don’t care. Get off.
You are the captain. GET. OFF. THE. SHIP.
Image from: https://www.army.mil/article/147541/from_the_command_historian_the_risks_of_neutrality_in_a_dangerous_world