if you want to build a ship

sunset on Lake Michigan (photo by my2fish)


If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.

— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, (1900-1944) French writer, aviator, (The quote is attributed to Saint-Exupéry; however it appears in only one distinct American translation of “Citadelle.”)

HT: Lost Art Press Blog


9 Responses to “if you want to build a ship”

  1. 1 Bonnie April 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    A co-worker has this quote posted in such a way that it’s one of the first things people on my floor see when we get to work every morning.

    I have always been horribly tempted to add a cranky post-it saying “But it probably wouldn’t hurt to have somebody with some good solid project management skills involved!”

    Terribly unpoetic of me to even think that, isn’t it? 😀

    Hey – gone sailing yet? I had some fun kayaking plans yesterday, but we had conditions here in NY that got me thinking it would’ve been a great day for my first sail of the season – a gentle 5-10 kts, with the wind from the S (which makes for a nice easy run back to the dock).

    • 2 my2fish April 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm

      bonnie – no sailing here. aside from yesterday (crazy warm – high 70’s!!!!), it has been quite cold and a lot of rain. I haven’t even pulled it out of winter storage yet!
      I’ve been tempted to get a kayak for my oldest boy and use a canoe for me, my wife and the 2 younger boys – but haven’t looked too seriously for them yet.

      • 3 Bonnie April 12, 2011 at 11:52 am

        That’s exactly the combination of boats my aunt & uncle keep at their cabin on the Manistee River – nothing fancy, just a recreational kayak and an ancient aluminum Grumman, as seen in my “Look, It’s A Lolcanoe – Or, Why I Stay Out Of PFD Debates!” post.

        I’m not sure but the Grumman may be the same boat that features in my earliest recollections of paddling.

        When there’s a larger crowd, of course the boats are supplemented by a variety of innertubes and other small inflatable thingies. Man oh manistee!

  2. 4 Bonnie April 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    the longing will give a better end result, though!

    • 5 my2fish April 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm

      yeah, I’m not sure the longing will necessarily make a better boat, but it might help you stick it out for the 2nd and 3rd version to make it better for spending time on the water.

      • 6 Bonnie April 12, 2011 at 11:42 am

        Oh yeah. I love handmade boats and I would love to make one of my own someday but I would certainly wait until I had the time and money to go do it under the tutelage of someone who knows what they are doing – that’s the only way there’d be any chance I might make something that can actually move in a straight line and isn’t a complete slug.

  3. 7 my2fish April 12, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    we drive over the Manistee River on our way up to Arcadia for summer vacations. I’ve always thought it’d be nice for canoeing/kayaking on.

    we usually canoe/kayak down the Platte River up near Crystal Lake, Michigan. in recent years, we have just used inner tubes to float down. we figured buying the inner tubes/boats was cheaper than all of us renting canoes each year.

    we also don’t always wear PDF’s on the Platte, but it is a very lazy slow river and very shallow.


    • 8 Bonnie April 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm

      I sort of figured you’d know of the Manistee – it’s lovely for all sorts of summer floating – canoes, kayaks, innertubes or even just swimming (there’s a nice little loop near the cabin where you can float down and walk back again and again until you’re completely waterlogged). I Actually had one of my more memorable paddling wildlife encounters there when I went out for a full moon paddle and found myself in the middle of a very hardworking beaver colony! I was actually a little spooked when I first got to them because one of them saw me before I saw them and let off a good loud tail-slap – I could NOT figure out what it was at first, I was afraid somebody was shooting or something, then I saw another beaver. I was paddling upstream from the cabin at that point & kept going a while longer, but when I came back, when I got to the beaver area, I put down my paddle and sat very still while I drifted through and that way, they didn’t seem to notice me at all. They were all over the place – gnawing trees, hauling branches around in the water – it was just too cool.

      • 9 my2fish April 13, 2011 at 7:17 pm

        wow – crazy! I don’t recall ever seeing a beaver clan while on our canoe/float trips. several years back, though, I was wading in a shallow part of the river, and a GIANT snapping turtle swam right next to my leg. it was probably a 24″ long shell, and it’s neck was maybe 3″ diameter. scared me to death!

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