Never Get Out Of The Boat

So you’re on this boat.

You’re near enough to land if you want some of that, but you don’t exactly want to leave the old life. The old life in this case is not the bad old days B.C. Those are way gone. In fact, they mayn’t even be optional for you anymore.

Sorry.

That’s what happens when you obey. The upside is good, real good … though sometimes that wavers in our minds when the flush of Hey! I didn’t drown in that cataclysm! dulls its hues a little. We look about, we’re on the boat, and life is settling into normal.

You don’t even mind the stench as much as you used to.

*

Yep, you rode the boat out of that place — old days, old life, old man — and into some smooth sailing.

If only the rain hadn’t stopped.

As long as the rain kept up, and people needed the boat, and in some ways the boat needed the people too, decisions were easy. Just stay in the boat. Don’t drown. All good.

Bam.

The boat found Mount Ararat, or parts thereabouts.

Now the instructions are different.

Go.

Do Stuff.

Make a Life.

Get Outta the Boat.

*

It’s like at the end of “The Truman Show,” when he takes the boat out, and the waves crash, and it is full on raining,and then it all stops, and he hits land, of a sort. He hits something solid anyway, and gets out, opens the door, and steps through.

“But what does he do now?” asked a friend in the group I saw it with.

“Anything he wants,” I said.

You begin to see a problem.

Because this time we’re a little bit on our own.

Go.

Not entirely: we have guides — human and historical, written and regular.

We have the command: Get out of the boat.

But just as we realize there are so many things we can do … “anything he wants” … we also realize … oh man Oh God there are so many things we can do.

Not all of them good.

And anyway … despite our pretty good early obedience, we’re not always ready to get out of the boat and do any and all things we want. Many of us, I would venture most of us, like the safety of the boat, even if it’s a little cramped sometimes.

Some of us jump right out, splashing about in the waves, getting sand in our hair, finding out we can’t yet … swim.

Either way, we can’t stay there forever. We have to do something.

Go.

*

Take Jonah.

Jonah got out of his boat by getting into one.

God said Go.

Jonah went somewhere else. Went off and did “anything he wants” in the bad way. In a good way, too, in the end, and in that God certainly had things covered. But sometimes we don’t know the full story until it ends.

Obedience for Jonah would have been to go to Nineveh. Don’t get in the boat.

Dissent for Jonah was getting in the boat, heading in the exact opposite direction of the city.

Jonah: boat-rocker of the first order.

He refused the Deity, and ran away.

To mess with God, he got on a boat.

The winds rose and the waves grew.

And, like Noah, he didn’t want to get out of the boat.

But he did man up, and he got out: head first and with help of the crew.

He ended up a boat-rocker of another kind, going to Nineveh and dissenting s’more — only this time he went against not God but the prevailing zeitgeist.

Kinda funny: Jonah’s boat-rocking, bad-tuding, in-God’s-face dissent served him well. Not to mention a good portion of the people of Nineveh. His manner fit the man; his talent fit the task. And probably God knew it would.

*

Never get out of the boat.

In Apocalypse Now, this is the advice given to Martin Sheen’s Captain Benjamin Willard.

But they do — they get out of the boat. (NSFW) And a tiger chases them back into it.

“‘Never get out of the boat,’” says Willard as the boat speeds away, .50-caliber machine gun chattering. “That’s goddamn right.”

Yes.

If all you have is a .50 caliber machine gun.

Never get out of the boat.

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