View Full Version : JMS' old essay/post about ships being made for sailing . . .
05-16-2010, 02:05 PM
Several years ago (around the time JMS took over Amazing Spider-man), I read an essay (or maybe it was just a Usenet post) from him somewhere --- it was about how we should never be afraid of change and how we are like ships, and ships are made for sailing, not to stay at the harbor.
Does anybody know what I'm talking about? It was very good and very inspirational and I used to have it on my computer, but I seem to have lost it . . . Anybody knows where I could find it again? I tried searching this site, but I wasn't successful.
Hi Ovnio, and welcome.
It sounds sort of familiar. Was it something about having made a little ship when he was a kid and letting it sail off? I don't find it the archives offhand but it might have been in an interview or one of the columns he's written from time to time.
I'll keep an eye out and maybe somebody else will be able to help more.
05-17-2010, 04:44 AM
I'm not familiar with the essay from JMS, but it sounds like he was building on a famous quote by John Shedd (from the 1920's I think)
"A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for."
05-17-2010, 11:35 AM
That quote sounds just like it. I don't remember if it was an essay or just something he posted online, or an actual column . . . I came across it while researching his name online --- there was a link to a site that had an archive of stuff he'd written, somewhat like this site, but I'm fairly sure it was a different one.
The piece was basically about taking chances and never getting too comfortable. How sometimes a great opportunity will present itself and you should just be ready to leave it all and go after it.
Thank you for looking!
Being willing to take chances and perhaps fail is a regular theme with JMS. You might be interested in his talk at MIT last year:
...where he tells lots of stories from his own life. It was a great evening.
The more I think about it the more familiar it sounds. Wonder if it might have been part of one of his columns in the B5 magazine?
FOUND IT! The words, "No, not really." kept running through my mind ever since your first post, Ovnio, and the one place I knew I'd seen that was in JMS's final "Last Word" column in the official B5 Magazine (V2, Iss. 24). Here it is:
When I was a kid, I spent about two weeks working on a little model ship. I glued it (messily), painted it (garishly), filled it with little notes I'd written and made sure it was water-tight. When it was done, I went to a stream that I knew fed into a river, that emptied into the ocean. I set it on the water and watched it sail away.
I had no desire to run after it and retrieve it.
That wasn't the point.
The point was to make the boat, and let the river take it wherever the river wanted to go.
Now, almost 40 years later, the point is the same: to make the show and let the river of time take it wherever the river wants to go.
That sound about right? There's more but the column was JMS' musings on the final issue of the B5 magazine and how he felt about it. The same column also has a 'conversation' between Londo and G'Kar about the humans and their ability to make choices, to grow and to change.
It's a wonderful piece of writing.
05-19-2010, 07:28 AM
Thanks, Jan. That's a very meaningful little story.
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