The Story of Pushing On the Ship

When I was twelve years old our family lived in Alameda, California not very far from the Navy Base that was located there. My Dad was just months away from retiring from the Navy, having served since before World War II for over twenty years. He and I would occasionally walk to the Base and fish off of the docks. We would take our fishing rods, a small tackle box, buckets to sit on and to put the fish in that we caught, and a few pieces of bread which we used for bait. We would tie a lead weight on at the end of our line with about six hooks tied on above the weight, each one being about a foot apart. We would take a piece of bread and roll it around until it was a nice little doe ball the size of a pea and put one on each hook. We would then jig that collection of tasty doe balls up and down in the water about ten feet below the surface. It would usually only be a few minutes before we had a perch on our line, and sometimes two or three at one time.

Most of the time when we went fishing the wind was blowing briskly, as it normally does at the coast. But one time, late in the evening, it was an absolutely dead calm, and the water in the bay was flat and smooth as glass. Dad set his bucket and fishing stuff down and walked over to one of the many Navy ships that were tied up to the docks. He leaned out and put his hands on the side of this enormous ship and began to push with all of his might. I remember thinking to myself, ”Yikes, Dad has lost it, he should have retired months ago”! He pushed for a long time, and I began to seriously worry, and then the ship began to move away from the dock! My thinking immediately changed too, ”Wow, my Dad must be Superman”! He sat down on the edge of the dock, and asked me to sit down next to him and gave me this little speech that has incredibly impacted my life ever since; ”I don’t know exactly how it works, but somehow as I pushed my energy was being stored up in the molecules in the steel in the hull of this ship. After there was enough of my energy put into the mass of this ship it moved. It wouldn’t have worked had there been any wind, but tonight was the perfect time to show you this principle. Two things that I want you never to forget, first of all, if I had gotten discouraged and quit, it wouldn’t have moved and everything I had done up to that point would have been lost, if you want to move or accomplish something very big you have to keep pushing and never give up. The second thing is, if you had helped me we would have moved it in half the time.”

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